Librarians have spent a great deal of time looking at ways to encourage the younger set – Millenials, as they’re called – to visit and use the library. In a terrific post, Stephen Abram reminds us not forget the folks on the other end of the age spectrum – seniors. He references a report by the U.S. Census Bureau, 65+ in the United States.
Here at MPOW we’ve got a wonderful program going called Senior Techies. A team is going around to libraries, training seniors of how to use a computer, how to use email, how to use a digital camera, and how to scan photos. The response has been overwhelming, and the stories are funny, and heartwarming, and eye-opening.
One couple wanted to learn email so they could communicate with their son, who was stationed in Iraq. The mayor of one town joined the class to learn email. The local Santa also attended.
One man shared with the trainer (Ann) that he hadn’t been in a library since 1954. He wasn’t sure about being there, but his wife had dragged him in. Ann assured him that he was more than welcome, and that there was much the library could offer him. He had left school in eighth grade, and wasn’t sure his reading skills were good enough for him to use the library.
Now, this opens up a whole philosophical discussion. Why hadn’t this man been in a library since Eisenhower was in office? What had his previous experience been that he felt so unwelcome? Are we doing the same thing today, alienating people who won’t visit a library again until 2056???