Public Libraries Could Better Serve Older Adults by Having More Programming Specifically Directed Toward Them
Keywords:senior citizen services, older adults, boomer generation, public libraries
AbstractA Review of:
Bennett-Kapusniak, R. (2013). Older Adults and the Public Library: The Impact of the Boomer Generation. Public Library Quarterly, 32(3), 204-222. doi: 10.1080/01616846.2013.818814
Objective – To determine whether programming at public libraries in the United States is aimed at older adults, and whether the programs help older adults maintain their health and well-being.
Design – Web site evaluation.
Setting – Public libraries in the United States of America.
Subjects – The main library of each public library system located in the capital city of each of the 50 states in the United States of America.
Methods – A scan of each of the web sites of the selected public library branches was performed by the author, to determine the number of programs specifically directed towards older adults.
Main Results – The scan of sites indicated that there was very little programming specifically aimed at older adults and their needs. Mainly, offerings for older adults took the form of mixing in with adults of all ages. Computer technology class offerings were particularly lacking. The majority of libraries had programs to teach how to access library resources and electronic media (although not necessarily aimed at older adults), programs for those who are less mobile, as well as some adaptive
technology for those with sensory disabilities. In addition, the majority of libraries had adult literacy programs, and active collaboration with community organizations.
Conclusions – Public libraries can do more to develop programs specifically for older adults. They should take into account the wide diversity of older adults’ information and other needs. In particular, they should consider offering programs that focus on technological skills, and also should offer assistive technology for older patrons. There also needs to be more research on the needs of older adults, from the perspective of the patrons themselves and that of library staff.
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