By 2020, adults over the age of 55 will account for 60 percent of the U.S. population. Even now, we see the interests of older adults changing, along with their desire to remain physically and mentally stimulated. Libraries play an increasingly large role in meeting the demands of this growing population, and through a new outreach program, Lifetime Arts, Inc., is pleased to bring new resources to aid libraries in this work.]
Through Creative Aging in America’s Libraries , a three-year project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Lifetime Arts is helping 20 library systems from 12 states around the country, along with 67 partnering local libraries, launch professionally conducted arts education programs for older adults. This group forms the first cohort of Lifetime Arts Affiliates, a supported peer network of Creative Aging librarians.
The multi-phased initiative seeks to build the capacity of public libraries to become centers for creative aging by using a new programming approach that responds to the changing needs and interests of today’s older adults. The project draws upon a comprehensive package of online and on-site training and resources, including the Creative Aging Toolkit for Public Libraries , which is available free to all libraries.
In New York this past July, and again in San Diego in October, 70 librarians attended multi-day training institutes, where they were inspired by national experts in library services for older adults, arts education, ageism and adult learning. Attendees sang, danced, painted and wrote their way through mini-creative aging workshops led by professional teaching artists. Said one participant, “Love, love, loved our getting to do a culminating experience together. I’m looking forward to seeing what programs we all create next.” Other experiential activities were designed to help participants with the planning and implementation of their own creative aging programs.
From September 2014 to June 2016, each library system will use their grant funding to develop free instructional arts workshops for older adults in partnering libraries. Led by professional teaching artists, the workshop series (a minimum of eight sessions) will build art-making skills in literary, performing or visual arts. Each series will culminate with a community sharing, an event demonstrating the result of the participants work, which could be in the form of an art exhibition, a musical or theatrical performance, or readings from the work created in the workshops.
Throughout this project, ALA’s Public Programs Office will help disseminate project information within the library sector, and the AARP Foundation  has committed to help build public awareness around the role of public libraries as centers for creative and positive aging. Check ProgrammingLibrarian.org for updates in the coming months.
Partnering Library Systems:
• Allegheny County Library Association | PA
• Boston Public Library | MA
• Brooklyn Public Library | NY
• Chandler Public Library | AZ
• Cuyahoga County Public Library | OH
• Dayton Metro Library | OH
• Free Library of Philadelphia | PA
• Hartford Public Library | CT
• Miami-Dade Public Library System | FL
• New Haven Free Public Library | CT
• Phoenix Public Library | AZ
• Pikes Peak Library District | CO
• Portland Public Library | ME
• Tempe Public Library | AZ
• Queens Library | NY
• Sacramento Public Library | CA
• San Diego Public Library | CA
• Seattle Public Library | WA
• Washington County Library Consortium | OR
• Westchester Library System | NY
*Lead Applicant on Creative Aging in America’s Libraries