Keys to Engaging Older Adults @ your library

Keys to Engaging Older Adults

Tips and tools on assisting older adults from the ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services


Further Reading

Ahlvers, Alicia. “Older Adults and Reader’s Advisory.” Reference & User Services Quarterly, Vol. 45, #4 Summer, 2006, pp. 305-312.

Dilger-Hill, Jeannie and Erica MacCreaigh, eds. On the Road With Outreach Libraries Unlimited, 2009.

Honnold, RoseMary and Saralyn A. Mesaros. Serving Seniors – A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2004.

Mates, Barbara T. 5-Star Programming and Services for Your 55+ Library Customers.  ALA Editions, 2003.

Additional Resources

ALA/Office for Literacy and Outreach Services web page for Services for Older Adults.

California State Library, Transforming Life After 50 Initiative.

Guidelines for Library and Information Services to Older Adults. Library Services to an Aging Population Committee, Reference Services Section. Reference and User Services Association, Revised 2008.

Large Print for All, a webinar on all aspects of large print materials, marketing ideas, and best practices.

Making Your Website Senior Friendly, Tips from the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine.

Mates, Barbara T. and Associates.Serving Seniors: A Resource Manual for Missouri Libraries. Missouri State Library, 2001.

Osborne, Robin, ed. From Outreach to Equity: Innovative Models of Library Policy and Practice. American Library Association. Office for Literacy and Outreach Services, 2004.

Programming Tools

ALA Public Programs Office ( fosters cultural programming through book and media discussion series, offers grants with essential resources for conducting high-quality cultural programs, and information on successful program models.

ALA’s Library Gaming Toolkit ( includes great ideas for using gaming with people of all ages.
Elder-berries: Library Programs for Older Adults, an electronic publication from the Ohio Library Council’s Outreach and Special Services Division (; a collection of program designs on topics such as travel, fine arts, intergenerational, and holidays.

BiFolkal Productions, Inc. ( has produced outstanding reminiscence-based programming kits for over 30 years. See their web site for monthly newsletters filled with program ideas.
Eldersong Publications ( produces creative activity materials for older adults; see their newsletters and ideas for activities

Discussion Forums

Sign up for these discussion lists to find librarians who are serving older adults:; sign up at

Assoc. of Bookmobile & Outreach Services; sign up at

Seek out blogs with useful information or write your own. Pasco County (FL) Library System’s Senior Services blog is a good place to start:

Share your experiences with the rest of us: contribute information on discussion lists and blogs; write articles for senior and library publications; record videos of your programs and activities and post on YouTube; have displays and speak at library and senior conferences. 

Further Information

For more information, please contact ALA’s Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS), (800) 545-2433, ext. 4292, or visit

For a list of updated resources on aging, please visit OLOS’s Delicious page,
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