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Older Adults – Inspire, Engage, Connect!

King County Library System, WA
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Innovation Summary

The “Silver Tsunami” shift provides an exciting opportunity to respond creatively to the needs of this important tax-paying constituency. KCLS hired an Older Adults Specialist, created partnerships with AARP and others, dedicated part of its website and formulated unique programs designed to inspire, engage and reconnect with this important audience.

Problem Statement

Along with other social developments such as the LGBTQ rights and Black Lives Matter movements, there is a burgeoning interest in our culture around reframing aging. What have been known as “the retirement years” are now seen as “refirement” years, a fresh season for reviving postponed dreams, reinventing one’s identity and taking on new challenges. Baby boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000/day and people age 75+ are one of the fastest growing constituents. This provides unprecedented opportunity to enroll in lifelong learning, utilize sophisticated skills in volunteer capacities and engage the broader community in deeper ways.

Innovation

Targeted programming and a unique partnership with AARP brought Life Reimagined and Fraud Watch programs to 20 libraries around the county. This program utilized 40 older adult volunteers and AARP’s deep market penetration to reach new audience members. KCLS created a dedicated website (www.kcls.org/50plus) highlighting resources specifically for this audience. Full-page ads and a monthly column in the regional 55+ newspaper were distributed at over 1,000 locations and online. The library utilized technology to reduce barriers, streaming programs to multiple locations and utilizing “telephone town hall” software so people can receive information on Social Security and Medicare right through their phone without having to travel.

Progress

The telephone town hall reached over 16,000 people. Polls taken during the event demonstrated that 87 percent of the participants felt a greater sense of connection with the library and 87% learned about a new library resource or service. The AARP Life Reimagined and Fraud Watch classes drew almost 500 people, 40 percent of which were first-time program attendees. One memorable participant quote stated, “I bring my grandkids to the library all the time – I never saw it as a place for me. Now I know better!” The dedicated 50+ website was accessed over 9,200 times in a year.