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Next Chapter Rewind: Reflecting on Service to Older Adults at the New York Public Library Over the Past Year, and Looking Ahead

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Happy New Year., Digital ID 1587816, New York Public Library

 

Next Chapter.

We've been asked: "What does that mean?" Well, it's a forward-thinking (and book-evoking) image we like here at NYPL and use to describe this blog channel, as well as the Facebook page and Twitterfeed sharing news and views focusing on those 50 and older. Oprah likes it too—the cover of the current issue of O magazine asks readers, "What's Your Next Chapter?"

While looking ahead can excite and energize, looking back can provide context, perspective and direction. One of the 2010 additions to NYPL's social media presence was Next Chapter's Facebook page, started in spring. It's a great way to keep up with late-breaking news and hear about classes, programs, and activities you may want to join. If you're on Facebook, or planning to join this year, we'd love for you to "like" us!

So let's go down the Facebook memory lane and see a bit of Next Chapter at NYPL's recent history as well as a peek at what's ahead...

In spring we started another of author Abby StokesAbby StokesAbby Stokes' library tours; she presented her Demystifying Computers talk to crowds, at widely-varying levels of mystification, at 10 branches. If you missed her, don't worry—we're planning another tour to begin shortly. Check the online calendar and/or Facebook to find out when and where.

Fordham University's Coalition for Debtor Education joined forces with NYPL in April to celebrate Financial Literacy Month. They provided speakers on the topic of Ten Ways to Protect Your Money at three library branches. In May, the Library partnered with the Center for Hearing and Communication to help spread the word about holding onto your hearing as part of the Better Hearing and Speech Month activities at five libraries. The Transition Network put together a phenomenal panel presentation—Don't Retire, Re-Invent—in June; a packed house at Mid-Manhattan Library took it all in with gusto.

Despite the sweltering heat of summer, an intrepid crew visited ten libraries with the Consumer Choice 50+ Summer Seminars to fill us in on several topics: the New York State Prescription Saver Card, which can save eligible NYS residents aged 50-64 up to 60% of prescription costs; EPIC, which supplements Medicare to help those 65+ with prescription costs; Social Security and their Retirement Estimator, which can help folks decide when to retire; and the New York State Consumer Protection Board, which provides lots of crucial information re: scams, frands and predators to keep us safe and aware.

New York City joined the Global Age-Friendly Cities initiative in late 2007, and the New York Public Library has been participating in the Age-Friendly New York City efforts, spreading the good news to older New Yorkers about what the libraries already provide while listening to needs and brainstorming how we can improve our service.  Tying in with these city-wide efforts, spring brought NYPL the great news that we received an LSTA grant entitled: Building an Age-Friendly Library: Enhancing Technology Services to Older Adults. This enabled us to provide 20-session computer courses geared to those 60+, taught by expert instructors from Older Adults Technology Services. So far, eight courses were offered: four each at Morningside Heights Library and 67th Street Library. One of the eight was in Spanish and garnered exceptional interest. More to come, English and Spanish, from July to December 2011; locations to be determined.

Fall brought another exciting partnership—with Lifetime ArtsLifetime Arts staff, Teaching Artists, and Branch LiaisonsLifetime Arts staff, Teaching Artists, and Branch Liaisons—who funneled funding from the Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation to us for creative aging classes. These took place at six libraries and provided free series of professionally-led art classes in widely-ranging artistic disciplines. Building on the successes of these programs we're hoping to expand this partnership and provide similar opportunities in many more libraries in 2011.

Author and veteran soap opera star Tina SloanTina SloanTina Sloan delighted a crowd at Mid-Manhattan in November with behind-the-scenes tales and advice from her book, Changing Shoes: Getting OlderNot OldWith Style, Humor and Grace. And cultural anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson enlightened audiences at Mid-Manhattan and St. Agnes libraries in December on the ways in which older people improve society, a topic she has become an expert on and conveys brilliantly in: Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom.

NYPL partnered with the Alzheimer's Foundation this year by offering free memory screenings at four libraries for their National Memory Screening Day on November 16th. We happily joined the effort to reduce stigma associated with Alzheimer's disease by providing spaces for people to address their fears and, in many cases, allay them by taking a standardized memory test administered by professionals in health care or a related field.

Working with the NYC Department for the Aging, NYPL has offered weekly Stay Well exercise classes at four libraries. Each Stay Well class includes cardiovascular, strength and flexibility exercises, conducted by trained volunteers, and gives opportunities to stay in shape year-round. If you are looking to volunteer, this is great way as the commitment will keep you exercising regularly, as we all know we should be doing anyway... We're going to be expanding the number of Stay Well sites in 2011 so ask at your local library about these classes—and keep your eye on NYPL's online calendar (limit "audience" to "50+).

It's great looking back at the end of each year to ponder what we've done and what we want to do in the coming year. Whatever you do in 2011, we hope the year is an exciting and fulfilling one, and invite you to "ride" along with Next Chapter at NYPL!

Central-Park, winter. The skating pond. New York / published by Currier & Ives, 152 Nassau St. ; Currier & Ives, lith. N.Y. ; C. Parsons, del. ; entered. . .1862 ; L. W. A., Digital ID 1659255, New York Public Library

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