Let’s Play…Reference Desk Expert Senior Edition
Demographics Who comprises the elderly/senior citizen community in the U.S.A? A. Adults 50+ B. Adults 60+ C. Adults 65+ D. It depends on who you are talking to
Demographics Answer There isn’t really a wrong answer to this question. For our purposes we will consider the community we are serving to be the 65+ group, but this is flexible. The 65+ group makes up approximately 12% of the total population in the United States.
Demographics What percentage of adults 65+ have disabilities? A. 41% B. 25% C. 0% D. 5%
Demographics Answer • 41% • Studies have shown that this number is declining, but a • significant number of seniors are still affected by disabilities.
Demographics How many people in the 65+ population are employed? A. 2.6 million B. 10.2 million C. 1 million D. 4.6 million
Demographics Answer D. 4.6 million 13% of the 65+ population.
Demographics What percentage of the 65+ population are living in poverty? A. 25% B. 3.3% C. 10.2% D. 6.3%
Demographics Answer C. 10.2 % Per surveys conducted in 2003.
Demographics What is the projected population increase of the 65+ community between 2000 and 2050? A. 55% B. 147% C. 12% D. 5%
Demographics Answer • 147% • In 2050 the 65+ population will reach 86.7 million people. • This will amount to 21% of the total population.
Needs When evaluating the needs for the elderly in a library setting, what should be considered? A. Educational, socioeconomic and ethnic background B. Religious organizations and other groups to which they belong C. Agencies that serve them D. Local media that targets older adults in the community E. All of the above
Needs Answer • All of the above • Working with any population requires • looking into many factors, both visible and • invisible that contribute to how interactions • occur and how we can optimize them.
Needs What would be the a good training subject for reference staff to have in assisting the elderly? A. How to look at pictures of other people’s grandchildren with interest B. How to recognize ageism and combat resulting stereotypes C. Matlock trivia
Needs Answer B. How to recognize ageism and combat resulting stereotypes Making preemptive judgements can often lead to poor service and may deter people from approaching the reference desk.
Needs When printing materials at the desk for use by a senior patron, what according to the ALA Guidelines for Library Services to Older Adults should be the minimum font size? A)14 pt B)20 pt C)24 pt D)12 pt
Needs Answer A: 14 pt. According to the ALA, library brochures should be in at least 14-point font type to ensure visibility for everyone.
Needs • After assessing the needs of the elderly population, how can they be applied at the reference desk? • Collection development • Informational Services • Lifelong learning encouragement • All of the above
Needs Answer • All of the above • The Reference desk can be applied in • multiple ways as libraries expand their • roles beyond book repositories.
Needs True or False: Reference services designed with the elderly in mind, work best in the library.
Needs Answer False Offering the library's services to assistive living, alternative housing, senior day care, congregate meals sites, senior community centers, nursing homes and senior residential or care homes in the community can aid in serving the elderly.
Libraries How does the Multnomah County Library System provide reference assistance for those senior patrons who are “homebound” due to physical or other limitations? A. They don’t. B. They send library volunteers to elderly care centers. C. The Outreach Department conducts reference interviews over the phone. D. The Central Library’s Reference staff conduct reference interviews over the phone.
Libraries Answer C. The Outreach Department conducts reference interviews over the phone. There is a large division of Multnomah County Library’s Outreach Department dedicated solely to serving what they refer to as “Older Adults.” While primarily conducting reference interviews over the phone, Outreach Librarians also bring laptops to senior centers and do some reference work while dropping off requested materials.
Libraries Reference Librarians at the Boulder Public Library perform much “on the spot” instruction at the desk. Which of the following are the top 3 skills they teach to seniors? A. How to use the Internet. B. How to check email. C. How to find large print materials. D. How to use a mouse.
Libraries Answer A. How to use the Internet. B. How to check email. D. How to use a mouse. Despite increasing technological literacy among seniors, difficulty understanding computers still ranks as a formidable obstacle for many (at least that’s what the Boulder Public Library Reference folks say).
Libraries If you were to review the curricula of the Top 10* MLS programs in the US, how many total courses would you find dealing specifically with serving “older adults,” “senior citizens,” or “the elderly”? A. 30 B. 18 C. 6 D. 0 *according to US News & World Report
Libraries Answer D. 0 What are MLS programs doing to prepare budding Librarians to best serve seniors? Not much, apparently, especially considering the robust state of course offerings in services for children.
Libraries Among reference librarian respondents to my informal survey about serving elderly patrons, which (if any) of the following are actual responses and which (if any) did I make up? A. “In some cases, they require a lot of handholding and expect it even when there isn't time for it. In other cases, they are downright hostile.” B. “We have not made any accommodations or adjustments to our customer service style based only on the customer's age.” C. “They're a pain because they want you to do everything for them.” D. “The main challenge I've encountered working with the elderly is phone reference service. Often they have hearing difficulties and it can be hard to speak loudly enough for them to hear you.”
Libraries Answer • “In some cases, they require a lot of handholding and expect it • even when there isn't time for it. In other cases, they are • downright hostile.” • B. “We have not made any accommodations or adjustments to • our customer service style based only on the customer's age.” • C. “They're a pain because they want you to do everything for them.” • D. “The main challenge I've encountered working with the elderly • is phone reference service. Often they have hearing difficulties • and it can be hard to speak loudly enough for them to hear you.” • Yes indeed, all true, some on condition/assumption of anonymity.
Libraries From a service perspective, what should be going through the Reference Librarian’s mind as a “legacy patron” approaches the desk? A. “Time to break out the TDD…” B. “I should plug in the Optelec magnifying machine…” C. “Where’d we put that ‘New Releases in Large Print’ brochure?” D. all of the above E. none of the above
Libraries Answer D. all of the above E. none of the above While maintaining a clear sense of the range of challenges to sight, hearing, mobility and cognition experienced by many of us as we age, it is essential at the Reference Desk to refrain from stereotyping.