Monday, March 5, 2007

Senior Spaces Project Proposal

As requested, here is the concept paper (proposal) for the Senior Spaces Project at the Old Bridge Public Library.


The Old Bridge Public Library has developed an exciting and innovative idea to develop into an Incubator Project for the INFOLINK Region. The idea is to take a less used and defined space in our library and develop that area specifically for baby boomers and older adults. With a working title of “Senior Spaces,” the Library plans to transform the area into “Your Space: The Creative Learning Center @ Your Library.”

The population over aged sixty years is projected to grow substantially in the near future as the baby-boom generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) ages. In 2000 there were 1, 443, 800 New Jerseyans aged 60 and over. By 2025, it is projected, that the population will number over 2.5 million in this age group. While the national average is 13.5%,
New Jersey already has over 17.2% of the population over 60, and it is expected to grow to 23.6% by 2025.

More than half (58%) of the New Jersey population 60 years of age and older in 2003 resided in seven counties: Bergen, Ocean, Essex, Middlesex, Monmouth, Hudson and Union. Four of these counties comprise the INFOLINK Region.

About 60% of New Jersey’s minority population 60 years of age and older in 2003 resided in four counties: Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Union and in addition, Middlesex had the largest percentage (8.5%) of Asian and Pacific Islanders over the age of 60. Again, four of these counties comprise the INFOLINK Region. (Source: A Profile of New Jersey Older Adults Aged 60+ Years, Center for Health Statistics, NJ Department of Health & Senior Services, April 2005.)

At this time, INFOLINK public Libraries are ill equipped and experienced to deal with these changing demographics. Many libraries still view “seniors” with an ageist mindset, thinking of older adults as those folks residing in nursing homes.

The baby boomers beginning to retire are looking towards their libraries to provide recreation, lifelong learning, civic engagement, ideas for second careers, and meaningful volunteer opportunities. Very few libraries in the region have specific programs for older adults and the baby boomers.

Based on these facts there is a strong need to develop a model program that can develop innovative and creative programs and services for older adults and the baby boomers that can be replicated throughout INFOLINK. In addition, the model needs to include the Diversity that is Central New Jersey.

Libraries for the Future (LFF) has been a leading advocate for designated spaces within the library setting that can provide an anchor for a “new” type of library services to the baby boomers. But, while LFF aim their efforts only towards the “active” well-educated baby boomer ready to soon retire, INFOLINK’s demographics are quite different.

Building upon the work of LFF in Arizona and Connecticut in developing “spaces” within libraries as a focal point for boomers only, the Old Bridge Public Library has developed a new idea concept that we think is even better suited and better reflects the INFOLINK Region and New Jersey entitled, “Your Space: The Creative Learning Center @ Your Library.”

The “Your Space” Concept:
The idea of “Your Space: The Creative Learning Center @ Your Library,” was developed by the Old Bridge Public Library Board as part of the process of their Strategic Plan for 2007-2010. In it, the Library Board identified seniors and baby boomers as the “new mass audience,” and began to “think outside the box” in terms of how to differently serve this population. Part of the discussion was to find an innovative way to bring programs and services together in the Library under one “umbrella,” and look for a variety of possible models as examples.

Perhaps one of the reasons that the Old Bridge Public Library identified this as an area of concern and possibility is that Allan Kleiman, Assistant Library Director, is one of the leading proponents of “library services to older adults in the United States and beyond,” and won the 2006 Margaret Monroe Award for Library Service to Adults from the American Library Association. Looking towards the future, as part of the development of the library’s Strategic Plan, the Library has already renamed its Reference Department, the “Adult & Information Services Department,” with a focus on the adult (of all ages.) Thus making way for “Your Space” to happen!

Like the LFF models, the Old Bridge Public Library staff felt that a physical location for this project within the library was an essential component and would give “Your Space” visibility. The Library’s building design gives it a unique “edge” for this Incubator Project as well. The building is divided in seven sections or “bays,” each one with an individual theme or service component in place. They include: Children’s, Teens, Reference, A-V, Science Fiction and “Reading/Lounge areas. The proposal is to turn the Science Fiction area into “Your Space.”

The physical components of “Your Space” would take shape over the course of the first six months. This would include design of the space, purchasing books/materials, shifting library books/materials, developing a library learning center, organizing programs, signage, recruiting volunteers, making contact with community organizations to form partnerships and developing a “Your Space” Advisory Board. One of the ideas would be to house a SENIORNET Computer Learning Center within the area.

The entire staff of the Adult & Information Services Department will be involved with the growth, development and programming activities of “Your Space,” and Assistant Director Allan M. Kleiman will serve as the Project Director. A major component of “Your Space,” will be the use of baby boomer and senior volunteers ensuring right from the start community buy-in and success from the ground up.

Although physically located in Old Bridge, we also think that “Your Space” will be even more successful if we open “membership” in it to the baby boomers and seniors of INFOLINK Region.

The “Your Space” Project umbrella would certainly include some of the components already identified by Libraries for the Future and baby boomers as essential components for this type of program but also to develop components which have more of a NJ “twist.” In addition, we feel that as the project continues to develop it needs to be flexible to encompass new ideas and directions. The components of “Your Space” may include a:

· Lifelong Learning Center (in conjunction with Rutgers & Middlesex College)

· Computer Training Center (in conjunction with SENIORNET

· Volunteer Exchange Center (within the library and Community)

· Job Information Center (2nd Career Center)

· Literacy & English-as-a-Second Language Center (in conjunction with Literacy Volunteers)

· New Immigrant Center for Learning (modeled after the Queens Borough Public Library’s New Immigrant Program

The physical space is now “claimed” by several groups that use it on a regular basis and we think would welcome “Your Space” and be potential participants in this new project. These include the Monday card players, the Tuesday knitters, the Wednesday scrapbookers and the Thursday crafters. Our most active “library club” is already the Savvy Seniors that are an independent group of active seniors that use the library as their base for programs, social activities and volunteering. In addition, in October, we are beginning “Senior Fridays,” programs for adults and older adults. These “Senior Fridays” would become a part of the programming effort of “Your Space.”

We have already begun to reach out to groups that reflect the diversity of Old Bridge and Central New Jersey. For the first time our library is celebrating “Hispanic Heritage Month” and we are planning a series of programs for the Indian (East Asian) community during November and December. The Indo-American Club composed of Indian seniors already meets in our library monthly. We would like to get them involved in “Your Space,” early in the process.

The projected proposed budget for this project for first 18 months (January 2007-June 2008) would be $30,000. This cost includes monies for the following: space design consultant, furniture, signage, computers, programming, SENIORNET license, and publicity.

The Old Bridge Public Library will allocate $10,000 from its budget. We would therefore like to request a match of $10,000 for this Incubator Project from the INFOLINK Board. In addition, we will be requesting a similar match from the NJ State Library which has expressed an interest in the concept of the project.

The Old Bridge Public Library is committed to ensure that the project is institutionalized after June 2008 and that monies are allocated for it in its regular budget.

This project lends itself to an outcome based evaluation model because we are certain of the positive impact that will happen in the community and the region. Pre and post survey questionnaires will be developed as part of the evaluation process.

We envision documenting the project’s progress on our web site as well as making presentations about it at state and national conferences and inviting library staffs from throughout INFOLINK Region and New Jersey to visit on a regular basis. In addition, a workbook/manual will be created to allow other libraries to develop their own “Your Space,” step-by-step.

The Old Bridge Public Library staff and Board feel that our concept for “Your Space,” is an exciting project that is replicable within INFOLINK Region,

New Jersey, and around the country. The project brings together all the components of programs for baby boomers and older adults under one umbrella and begins with the premise that “seniors” come in every shape, size, color and age and that they never stop learning!

Allan M. Kleiman
Assistant Library Director/
Old Bridge Public Library
Executive Director/

Old Bridge Library Foundation
732-721-5600, ext. 5042

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