Friday, February 17, 2006

Library outreach: Reaching out to the elderly

Today I did a workshop entitled "Library Outreach, Redefined: It's a Wide New World." Participants came from across Upstate NY, even though the weather was changing and becoming lousy. The discussion was quite good and the panelists in the afternoon talked about very interesting activities.

Late the day, someone asked about reaching out to the elderly. The elderly are a group that can be forgotten. They become less mobile sometimes due to health issues and they may not drive. They don't like being out at night, often due to their changing eyesight. So what outreach services can you provide to this group and how to you find them?

Potential services?
  • Audio books
  • Large print books
  • Home delivery
  • Teach them to use some of the technologies their grandkids are using
  • Computer training
  • Book discussions
  • Help them create oral histories
  • Connect them with medical/health information
  • Create nostalgia events (events that focus on something that happened when this group was young)
How do you find them (or reach them)? Try:
  • Adult day care centers
  • Adult living facilities / nursing homes
  • Senior citizen centers
  • Meal delivery services (Meals-On-Wheels)
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Senior citizen housing
Additional hints:
  • If you are creating printed materials for this group, remember to use a larger typeface and one that is easy to read.
  • Use language that they will understand and examples that will make sense.
  • If you are trying to teach them about your online databases, digital library or digitized collections, be patient. This is still new territory for them. Don't try to cram too much in at once.
  • Remember that this group needs companionship, so create programs that have an element of that.

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