Serving Older Adults Part 2

This is the second blog on the ALA RUSA Pre-Conference:  A Dialogue with the Aging Network and the Library Community, July 2009

Barbara Mates, author of 5-Star programming and Services for Your 55+ Library Customers and Adaptive Technology for the Internet, had a lot to say about providing services to older adults.  The most effective changes you can make to your library to improve services are:

  • make sure you have good lighting in your building (eliminate glare at service desks and make sure light in stacks is adequate);
  • have wheels available (wheelchair, walker with a basket, or electric cart);
  • keep the aisles clear;
  • provide multiple formats of materials;
  • make sure computers are accessible (use a large font on the screen and oversized keyboards and trackballs);  and
  • provide reachers, magnifiers, a listening device and CCTV.

arbara brought one of the new digital players from the National Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.  The new players take a new digital cassette and will also be able to use downloaded books from NLS.  If you’re not familiar with the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped’s programs, check them out here:

She also talked about a universally accessible audio player, the Victor Reader Stream DAISY.  It plays the NLS downloadable books and can also be used with Overdrive downloadable books.  When you think of how small the controls of ipods and mp3 players are, you really appreciate the DAISY controls.

Lastly, Barbara suggested making sure library staff are trained to serve older adults.  Programming should be appropriate for this age group.  It should be stimulating and encourage interaction.  She suggests book talks, book discussion groups, and programs on the following topics:  gaming, reminiscing, health care, investing and financial planning, sports, fashion, cooking, music appreciation, movies, wills and trusts, life planning and computer skills.

She mentioned one library that was partnering with a group in England on an online book discussion (I think they used OPAL).  They also emailed each other.

For more ideas, check out her book.  Next time, I’ll talk about the SCEP program.

One Response to “Serving Older Adults Part 2”

  1. I Thank you for the blog post. I really enjoyed reading it. :)