How Libraries Are Serving the Evolving Needs of Baby Boomers and Older Adults ALA 2012 Annual Conference
Sponsors of This Workshop • RUSA RSS Committee on Library Services to an Aging Population (Jeffrey Kempe, Chair) • ALTAFF • ASCLA • PLA • OLOS • RUSA
Workshop Presenters • Tony Sarmiento, Executive Director, Senior Service America, Inc. • Susan Hildreth, Director, Institute of Museum and Library Services • Suzanne Flint, Library Programs Consultant, California State Library • Jane Salisbury, Supervisor, Library Outreach Services, Multnomah County Library
Focus of This Workshop Baby Boomers and Older Americans today are the most diverse community of aging adults in history. Learn how libraries are reaching these populations, with attention to the 2008 RUSA Guidelines on Library and Information Services to Older Adults. Explore how libraries can best respond to the needs of Boomers and older adults through programs, collections, and services, including responses to the current economic downturn.
The Segal Company: “The Aging of Aquarius” (2001) Is there a profile of a “typical” boomer? No. Despite popular perception of similarities among boomers, including the amusing stereotype of an affluent, gray-haired former hippie, the baby boom generation is extremely diverse.
Is there a profile of a “typical” boomer? “A 20-year period can encompass more than one generation, particularly if a generation is defined as groups of people with shared experiences, similar attitudes and the same cultural touchstones. Older boomers’ formative years were the turbulent sixties and early seventies, the era of the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements and the Vietnam War and its organized opposition. Younger boomers turned 18 between the mid-1970s and early 1980s, a period that included Watergate, the oil embargo and high inflation.”
Our challenge as a public institution: How can libraries connect with and serve an extremely diverse audience of Baby Boomers and Older Americans? • Generational • Gender/gender expression • Ethnic/racial • Income level • Educational level • Immigrant experience
Let’s avoid substituting one stereotype about aging with another. • All older adults are frail, dependent, and in decline. • All baby boomers are completely different from previous generations.
“Eyeing an Encore Career? Expect a Bumpy Transition” The New Retirement, Glenn Ruffenach, SmartMoney Magazine, July 2012 http://www.smartmoney.com/retirement/planning/eyeing-an-encore-career-expect-a-bumpy-transition-1339526090060/
“Eyeing an Encore Career? Expect a Bumpy Transition” (SmartMoney, July 2012) Bill Gates has one. So does Al Gore. Each man has embraced an encore career -- work in later life that's personally fulfilling, contributes to the greater good and generates income. (Although I assume the last isn't top of mind for Gates.) If you're considering a similar path, new research and developments point to reason for concern -- and optimism.
“Eyeing an Encore Career? Expect a Bumpy Transition” (SmartMoney, July 2012) “The notion of encore careers (the term was made popular by Marc Freedman, head of Civic Ventures, a San Francisco think tank) has been percolating now for some time. But several factors today are prompting more people to pursue such jobs: undersize nest eggs, increased longevity, a desire to tackle society's ills and, in many cases, an urge to find a different kind of life.”
“70% of Baby Boomers do not have college degrees, which raises the question: what encore careers are open to those who lack higher education?” - Phil Longman, Senior Research Fellow, New America Foundation, March 2012 http://www.newamerica.net/events/2012/encore_careers
GAO Report on Unemployed Older Workers – April 2012 GAO Report to the Chairman, Special Committee on Aging, U.S. Senate: “UNEMPLOYED OLDER WORKERS: Many Experience Challenges Regaining Employment and Face Reduced Retirement Security” (GAO-12-445) http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-445
GAO Report on Unemployed Older Workers – April 2012 Unemployed Older Workers Face Many Challenges in Becoming Reemployed • Perceived employer reluctance to hire older workers • Lack of up-to-date skills and diminished skills • Challenges in the online job application process • Emotional challenges that result from long-term unemployment
AARP Foundation Priorities • “Nearly 9 million people age 50 and over are at risk of hunger every day – a 79 percent increase in just 10 years.” • “More than 20 million low-income people age 50 and over do not have adequate financial resources to meet their basic needs.” • “…approximately 13 million low-income 50+ households in America cannot afford their housing costs and/or live in inadequate housing.” • The Foundation is “discovering how isolation contributes to the hunger, housing and income problems many seniors face — and seeking workable solutions those problems…”
Possible future grant opportunity for libraries? AARP Foundation is learning “what other organizations across the country are doing to help older Americans have the level of contact with others and involvement in community that supports healthy, engaged living. The results from this program will be used to shape AARP Foundation’s grant making efforts around Isolation and low-income adults age 50 and older.” http://www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/grants/isolation-grants-combating-isolation/
Possible future grant opportunity for libraries? • CEO of AARP Foundation is Jo Ann Jenkins, former COO of Library of Congress • Build on how libraries already are serving low-income older adults at risk of isolation, such as: • Digital literacy training • Job search • Health information • Services to disabled • Outreach and partnerships with local aging services networks
Race, Poverty, Age, and Place “An Asian-American woman living in the wealthy suburbs of New Jersey can expect to live until 91 years of age. A black man in an American Rust Belt city? 58. In that 33-year gap is an incalculable loss of human capacity, and narrowing it -- bringing us to a society in which where you are born or reside, or what your skin color is, does not circumscribe life's outcomes, and even the length of life itself -- is our most urgent priority.” (Gara LaMarche, Dec. 2008)
“Libraries are… essential to the functioning of a democratic society.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt
Email me for more info: Tony Sarmiento Executive Director, Senior Service America, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org www.seniorserviceamerica.org