I’ve addressed my local library and its outreach to seniors in a previous blog post. So for this post I’m going to turn to a library outside of the Detroit area, Rochester Hills Public Library. I was exceptionally impressed with RHPL’s library service for older adults.
RHPL has an Outreach Coordinator, who is in charge of services to senior adults, as well as services to the disabled community and is in charge of running a bookmobile service. They work hard to make sure that older adults are connected to the library and they have services that are geared toward them.
Within the main branch, there is a dedicated room for outreach services, which is where most of the services for the senior community are organized. This room includes their large print collection, computers, a home health care library, relevant magazines, and assistive devices to aid in reading. RHPL also has mini-branches in each of the designated senior living complexes in the area that they support. There is also one located in the community center for older adults. These branches are run by volunteers within the communities and provide access to large print, audio book materials, as well as bestsellers, DVDS, and other paperbacks. RHPL have book cards for residences where the patients may be room/bed bound, where they can pick a selection of books, audio, and movie materials off a mobile cart on a twice weekly visit.
These stations are more than just a collection of books, and allow greater access to materials to patrons who might not be able to make it to the main location. They also provide excellent opportunities for older adults to become engaged in their communities and participating and staying active. This type of partnership, between the housing complexes and the senior living center is a brilliant partnership that more libraries could think of fostering.
There are additional situations to provide programming directly at these mini-branches, depending on size of the branch. These could be educational or entertainment events, which will allow people to remain connected to one another and engaged in discussion. Not only will people be able to enjoy the programming, but they could enlist volunteers from the housing complex and senior centers, which provide an even better opportunity to stay involved. Nurturing a community is can, and should be, an important role for libraries.