Volume 29, Number 1, Spring 2007

Serving the New Wave of Retirees Idea Exchange Round Table

Cheryl Bryan, Southeastern Massachusetts Library System

Because of our relatively mild climate, Southeastern Massachusetts is a popular area for New England retirees. Last August, the Southeastern Massachusetts Library System (SEMLS) sponsored a round table on services for baby boomer retirees. Our round table format evolved into a round robin idea exchange for all participants, then a subject specialist who shares their successes. Nancy Aberman, Reading Public Library Public Services librarian, served as our specialist. She and the group participants shared many successful programming ideas that we later shared with SEMLS members in a newsletter article.

Some general programming pointers included:

  • Surveys show this group is looking for intellectual stimulation, social activities, and making an active life.
  • Days work better than nights.
  • Establish a routine timeslot and vary the programming.
  • Follow up programs with information posted on the library’s Web site.
Program ideas included:
  • By word-of-mouth, a monthly gathering to discuss what they are reading (annual list of recommendations posted on the library's Web site);
  • Slackers' book discussion with multiple copies of the book available every month; readers fill out comment cards that are posted or post comments on readers’ blog;
  • Book discussion group that meets at senior center; librarian coordinates and selects titles, and a volunteer runs discussions;
  • Adult summer reading program run as a raffle;
  • SIPS -- Short Interesting Program Series; local businesses provide program (i.e. REI on bikes and bike tours; wine shop on entertaining for the holidays; consignment shop holding a fashion show), and businesses bring a door prize for each session;
  • Annual information fair (co-sponsored by YMCA) tables for Red Cross, Massachusetts Square Dance, community theater groups, and the like; and
  • Conversations on creative aging à la Mary Catherine Bates; the library also participates in an area advisory group to coordinate programming for this age group.
Although our libraries are active with many successful programs, members have requested a regular schedule of round tables and a blog on the new SEMLS Web site to share ideas.