Credit: Herb Scher

Urban Systems Prepare Librarians for Age Wave


The Metropolitan Library Services Association (MELSA), based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and two major systems in the New York metropolitan area – the Queens Library and New York Public Library – are taking steps to ensure that their public services librarians are prepared to meet the current Age Wave.  Recognizing the lack of professional training opportunities in the field of 50+ services these systems are each designing their own approaches for improving the capacities of public services staff responsible for working with older adults.


In the Twin Cities region of Minnesota MELSA  joins eight member library systems, collectively operating over 100 public libraries, in an alliance dedicated to promoting cooperation among its members and ensuring high quality services and programs for residents.

In September 2014 MELSA will sponsor a workshop on creative aging in libraries for member libraries. The workshop will feature Maura O’Malley of Lifetime Arts and Diantha Dow Schull of DDSchull Associates.

New York

The New York Public Library (NYPL) serves residents of three of New York City’s five boroughs: Staten Island, Bronx and Manhattan. NYPL has been a leader in older adult services through its Next Chapter program, featuring programming in health, arts and technology for older adults and a special blog channel. Westchester County Library System (WCLS) has also been a leader in 50+ services, having sponsored creative aging programs in its member libraries and as a partner with Lifetime Arts in state and national projects to expand creative aging in public libraries.

In December 2013 NYPL offered a half-day workshop for librarians from its system and the other two systems serving New York City: Queens and Brooklyn. Diantha Dow Schull facilitated the workshop and give a key-note presentation on How Libraries are Responding to the Age Wave. Other presenters were: Dorian Block of Age-Friendly NYC; Betsey Werley of Coming of Age and the Transition Network; Mary Bleiberg of ReServe and the Queens Library; Brigid Cahalan and Rebecca Hoffman of NYPL; and Jamie Kamilhor of Brooklyn Public Library.

In March 2014 WCLS, with Lifetime Arts, is launching a national training program to prepare teams of librarians from 34 library systems in 12 states to plan and implement creative aging programs. The training program consists of four webinars and two regional Institutes. It is a major component of Creative Aging in America’s Libraries, a joint WCLS/Lifetime Arts project, funded by IMLS, that is building a national network of Lifetime Arts Affiliates.

Through these professional development opportunities there is a growing cohort of librarians who are embracing new opportunities for designing and implementing services and programs that align with the interests and needs of today’s diverse generations of 50+ adult.