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Inspiring, Engaging, and Connecting Older Residents Countywide

aging-network

King County Library System (KCLS) was recently awarded the 2016 Top Innovator for Civic and Community Engagement by the national Urban Libraries Council for their program Older Adults: Inspire, Engage, Connect.

The library recognized that King County’s “age wave”—the demographic shift caused by the baby boom (1946–1964) and greater longevity—provided an opportunity to make the library system a central part of the lives of community elders. KCLS developed a program to reduce barriers to access that included streaming programs to multiple locations and using telephone town hall software to provide information on Social Security and Medicare.

King County Library System staff, AARP staff and volunteers, and well-known librarian, author, and library critic Nancy Pearl celebrate the success of new programming for library guests age 50 and older.

King County Library System staff, AARP staff and volunteers, and well-known librarian, author, and library critic Nancy Pearl celebrate the success of new programming for library guests age 50 and older.

In KCLS’ Innovation submission, they wrote, “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.”

The library system created a dedicated website that was accessed over 9,200 times in one year. Ads were placed in local senior publications. KCLS partnered with AARP to bring Life Reimagined and Fraud Watch programs to 20 libraries around the county. These events drew almost 500 people, many of whom were first-time participants at library events.

The Social Security/Medicare telephone town hall reached over 16,000 people, and polls taken during the event indicated an increased sense of connection with the library and its services.

“In just over a year, the library has reached new community members with life-changing services,” said King County Library System director Gary Wasdin.

Wendy Pender is the KCLS older adult project specialist and a frequent contributor to AgeWise King County.

Wendy Pender is the KCLS older adult project specialist and a frequent contributor to AgeWise King County.

“The breadth of the 2016 innovations is remarkable, confirming that creativity and inventive approaches continue to thrive in public libraries,” said Urban Libraries Council (ULC) president and CEO Susan Benton. “ULC is proud to highlight programs that provide lifelong learning opportunities, meet the unique needs of diverse audiences, leverage technology to connect people with each other and vital resources and address community issues. These are the initiatives of the 21st century public library.”

Congratulations to KCLS older adult project specialist Wendy Pender and her colleagues on this well-deserved award!

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