50+ Library Services: Innovation in Action

By Williams, Lisa Powell | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

50+ Library Services: Innovation in Action


Williams, Lisa Powell, Reference & User Services Quarterly


50+ Library Services: Innovation in Action. By Diana Dow Schull. Chicago: ALA, 2013. 335 p. Paper $55 (ISBN: 978-0-8389-1119-8).

Focused on programs for public libraries, this commonsense primer for both frontline librarians and administrators challenges practitioners to rethink aging in the United States. Setting the tone for the entire book, the preface reframes services to patrons over the age of 50 in terms of "bonus years" and "midlife constituents," rather than the oft-used terms "seniors" and "older adults." From the outset, Schull notes that this book should not be considered comprehensive; rather, the goal is to enable librarians to examine their own landscapes and to "cherry pick" the ideas most applicable in their libraries. The author likewise notes that "this volume captures a series of works in progress rather than tried and true 'best practices'" (xix).

50+ Library Services describes in depth the work of libraries in four "leading edge" states: Arizona, California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Some ideas taken from public libraries in other states are also examined, albeit to a lesser degree. While examining ideas from these libraries, however, one of Schull's cardinal tenets is that the best range of services and programs will be achieved only if librarians know their own communities' needs, resources, and potential partners.

Highlighting the change in how we view services to aging adults, a librarian in Minnesota is quoted: "I think the paradigm will shift. People will not be interested in programs because they are for 'seniors' or for 'adults.' They will be attracted to programs because of their content and their schedule" (42).

Midlife adults are attracted to a wide array of programs and services, ranging from encore career advice and book clubs to arts events and wellness programs. …

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