The "Creative Aging in America's Libraries" project celebrates its halfway mark by sharing some notable outcomes.
Back in December, you learned in these pages that Lifetime Arts and the Westchester Library System had launched Creative Aging in America’s Libraries, a three-year IMLS National Leadership project that established the Lifetime Arts Affiliate Network for Public Libraries. This consortium of 20 library systems from 12 states around the country — along with their 67 partnering local libraries — have been implementing professionally conducted arts education programs for older adults. A full package of professional development, ongoing technical assistance, an online toolkit and incentive funding supports the Affiliate Network members and is helping to shift library services for older adults away from passive entertainment toward responsive, innovative, engaged and fun programming.
With the project at its halfway point, and with more than half the participating systems having completed or partially completed their creative aging programs, we are excited to share some of the many notable outcomes.
Cuyahoga County Public Library, one of the first systems to get going, branded their project “Arts4Life” and published a well-designed brochure that describes each of the four course offerings and information on the teaching artists. These successful programs have whetted patrons’ appetites for more, and so the system will seek new funds from the local and state arts councils to keep the program going.
Phoenix Public Library’s four programs were scheduled simultaneously, creating a critical mass of innovative programs and a system-wide marketing campaign opportunity. The system chose participating libraries based on geographic and economic diversity and adapted an administrative approach that centralized many of the coordinating tasks, such as finding and select the artists, issuing contracts, ordering supplies, making site visits and attending and photographing all of the culminating events. Phoenix’s adult services committee meets monthly to discuss programmatic issues and has added “creative aging programming” to the agenda.
Sacramento Public Library branded their creative aging project “In Creative Company.” Local programs were filled to capacity and had waiting lists. One library hosted a “mother/daughter” older adult student duo. In an effort to sustain and build on the successes here, one library’s Friends group will support another creative aging program; and the system applied for and received a grant from the Sacramento Metro Arts Commission to work with one of the commission’s roster artists.
Dayton Metro Public Library administrators reported that now, as members of the Lifetime Arts Affiliate Network, they have developed a new way of approaching services for older adults along with a new way of fostering engagement. Working with professional teaching artists greatly improved the quality of the instruction the library could offer to the community. The project has also inspired a new effort by the system to connect to the Dayton area arts community to encourage reciprocal programming. Like so many of the affiliates, Dayton Metro is exploring ways to sustain this good work. Check out a short video they created from footage of their first creative aging program.
As more libraries complete their programs they’ll be making new discoveries. We look forward to sharing them with you.