We're all looking for programming that is easy, effective, and not a burden on staff resources. You may think that such a program does not exist, but luckily for NYPL, the nearly perfect opportunity has presented itself in the form of a new initiative called "Creative Aging in Our Communities." Administered through an organization called Lifetime Arts, the Creative Aging initiatives are designed to enrich the lives of New York City seniors by providing ongoing instruction in the visual or performing arts. Programs run a minimum of eight sessions and can include anything from collages to choral performances to memoir writing.
Of course, a program that runs at least eight weeks sounds like a ton of work, but the beauty of the Creative Aging initiative is that although the programs take place in the Library, they are administered by professional teaching artists who provide the actual instruction and are in charge of the class. Once the application is completed, most of your work as the librarian partner will be done.
I had the great privilege of participating in the pilot project last year at the Grand Central Library. Our program was a memoir writing workshop where the participants learned how to craft their personal stories and present them to an audience. You can read more detail about my experience here. We had two wonderful teaching artists to guide us on the journey. Annie and Lauren were dedicated, responsible, committed and personable. They made my job very easy. I was fortunate enough to be able to actually participate in our workshop, though I believe I was the only librarian who had that luxury. Basically, once your project is chosen and funded, all you have to do is act as a liaison and a representative for the Library, as you would for any program presented at your neighborhood library.
There is another orientation session for NYPL staff this Tuesday, June 14, at Mid-Manhattan Library. If you are interested in a really unique and satisfying way to reach out to your senior population, I strongly urge you to attend the session. The Creative Aging initiative has been the most meaningful and fulfilling experience of my NYPL career thus far.