Column Description: As a friend of the Cambria Heights Library and a member of the Friends of the Library Section, Aletta is aware of the work, support, and advocacy that the friends provide to and for libraries. Each column will focus on some aspect of being a friend of the library, support that friends provide to libraries, or highlighting a friend of the library.

What an amazing webinar I had the pleasure of attending on Wednesday, April 6, 2022, from 2-3 p.m.! The title of the webinar was "Fishing for Friends: How to Reel in Midlife Adults with Programs." The presenter was Dr. Renee Bennett-Kapusniak, Librarian at the Saratoga Springs Public Library and author of the book, Public Library Programs, and Services for Midlife and Beyond: Expanding Opportunities for a Growing Population. My interest initially piqued because I am a member of the midlife and beyond growing population and I am also a member of the Friends of the Library Section (FLS). 

Prior to the webinar I ordered a copy of the book from the Queens Public Library and perused it.

The book contained a lot of information, charts, tables, and data on older adults and programs targeting older adults at various libraries. Dr. Renee Bennett-Kapusniak shared in her presentation that many baby boomers (57 – 76 years of age) are active, happy, well-educated, and financially secure adults. She recommended that libraries attract them as volunteers because they want to give back to their community and are looking for choices and options to make a difference.

She listed some ways that this age group can serve: prepare or assist with craft programming; sharing specialized skills (tap into their professional skills); sharing cultures; homework helpers; supporters; and library advocates are a few suggestions.  In order to recruit volunteers who are 60+, Dr. Bennett-Kapusniak recommended using marketing in print, social media, media,  calendars, flyers, posters, newsletters, and electronic newsletters. Social media such as Facebook and Instagram can be used. Local newspapers, radio stations, local businesses, food pantries, and word of mouth were suggested for recruiting older adults.

There were a variety of programs at various libraries shared. For example, a Traveling Book Bag Contest. Take photos of your travels and enter the photos into the contest. Another program was: The Way We Wore – Fashion Show. Other programs were: concert series – jazz, hip hop, etc.; The Daily Grind – The History of Coffee; Storytime Health; Spring Planting; Oral History Project; poetry or creative expression for adults; English conversation programs; Library Ambassadors; library popup table; and job help.

The webinar was packed full of great information and the names of libraries that have great programs for older adults. I highly recommend borrowing Dr. Bennett-Kapusniak’s book from your local library or purchasing it.

Aletta Seales received her MLS from Queens College, CUNY after retiring from the NYC Department of Education as a teacher/administrator. She has served as library staff and a volunteer at the Queens Public Library since 2007. Currently, Aletta is the secretary of the Cambria Heights Library Friends group which is part of the Queens Public Library.