Adult Engagement Calendars: July/August 2016
I was delighted when my friend Jack stopped me at church awhile ago to share that he and his wife, Jan, had been attending the Wisconsin Film Festival Sneak Peeks hosted at several Madison area libraries. I was delighted not only because they participated in this great program, but also because he commented that “libraries really are different.” His comment harkens back to a program I presented almost a year ago at an over-55 luncheon on the changing landscape of libraries.
I can’t help but wonder if they’ll return for more programs after having this positive library experience. They are the exact people you would expect to be regular library patrons: educated, engaged, civic and socially minded adults. A cultural event drew them in, but what will bring them back?
The July and August adult programming calendars offer a starting point. I have fun putting them together. I learn new things, relearn things and discover interesting tidbits about famous people. In the process, I find some really cool websites, and my curiosity quotient is met.
Do you know what a Knickerbocker Glory is or that Yellow Pig Day involves math? I didn’t, but I do now.
However, depending on the goals and objectives of your library’s adult programming, it’s quite likely you will need to do a bit more homework.
Get Focused & Look Outward
This is challenging, as the term “adults” encompasses a broad spectrum of ages from 18 to 100+ (for a select few), and there are many life phases of adults, each with different needs, topics of interest and time constraints. A great place to start is by understanding the demographics of your community.
But to truly know, one has to seek answers, and who better to ask than the adults in your community? Asking questions that garner actionable insights can be challenging, but here are a couple of reference points to get you started:
- Aaron Schmidt’s Library Journal article, Asking the Right Questions – The User Experience, encourages us to rethink our approach so we get insights about community problems that libraries can act upon.
- This Shelf Check blog post encourages libraries to garner concrete user-centered responses by moving away from asking “Why do you love your library?” to “Why did you come to the library today?”
Read Up — Adults May Not Be the People You Think They Are
At PLA I attended “This Ain’t Your Grandma’s Library … Or Is It? Serving Older Adults in a Changing World,” presented by Wendy Pender of the King County Library System. Her presentation was chock-full of trends, program and partnership ideas, and resources to help us better understand the mindset and needs of adults age 50 and beyond.
One of my personal favorites was the data she presented from Brookings scholars that showed a clear relationship between age and well-being in the U.S., revealing things get better beyond 55. All I’m going to say is “bring it on!” She also shared a short video, Change Your Thinking About Aging, touching upon the importance of arts and engagement in the aging process. Perhaps this explains my emerging interest in arts and crafts projects, and my recent Paint Nite outing (I’m happy with my cow).
At ALA Midwinter I listened to JoAnn Jenkins, CEO of AARP, speak from her new book, Disrupt Aging. In it, she challenges us to own our age and look forward to the years ahead because aging is a human experience and we all have much wisdom and experience to share. If you weren’t there, consider watching Jo Ann’s interview with ChicagoIdeasWeek and Millennials Show Us What ‘Old’ Looks Like.
Just in case you’re curious, the last time I went to a public library was a week or so ago because the book my 8th grade daughter wanted to read was checked out of the school library. Tonight, I’m going there again with my 7th grade daughter for a 4H planning meeting. I’ve also been in their middle school library twice in the past month, once for a parent advisory meeting and the other for a Makerspace Open House. The latter was way fun as I tried out a 3-D computer program, used circuits to make a bristlebot and watched kids fly drones.
Just because the years are adding up doesn’t mean we have to slow down. As adults, we can still tap into our curiosity and our creativity. So, if you’re looking for fun ideas to share that will interest and engage your adult patrons, download the July and August calendars below and start planning!