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.
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.
“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!
Learn more at:
- King County Library’s Tele-Town Hall (July 2016)
- King County Library System Events during Older Americans Month (May 2016)
- Oh, The Places You’ll Go at King County Libraries (January 2016)
- Mind Matters at King County Libraries (September 2016)
- UW Certificate Program Leads to Success Working with Older Adults (September 2016)
KCLS wants to know what you think about their services overall. Take a few minutes to complete their survey.