Tempe Public Library Engages and Empowers Senior Residents
At Tempe Public Library, the Senior Library Outreach Coordinator Nicholas Escalante has developed and implemented the Exercise Your Brain series which focuses on brain health and cognitive improvement within the senior population. The series is designed to be sustainable. By providing classes demonstrating, for instance, how to register for the program or use online resources, the library “places the power and ability back in the hand of that person, helping seniors to feel independent and an active part of the community,” Escalante notes. Classes are currently at full capacity, and the program is also provided for outside organizations, such as Banner Health and the Tempe YMCA.
Library’s “Exercise Your Brain” Series: 4 Programs in 1
- BrainHQ™ a suite of online brain fitness exercises designed to help adults think faster, focus better, remember more, and enjoy life. It is available to libraries exclusively through Demco Software.
- “Use It, Don’t Lose It” mental fitness activities
- “Keep Your Brain Alive” neurobic exercises
- iPad® Photo Walks
How to Reach Adults
Escalante believes the success of the Exercise Your Brain series lies in its outreach services, which “provide the opportunity for non-traditional library users to have access to Tempe Public Library services and programs. By providing library services outside the walls of the library, we have expanded the role of the library in the community.” Escalante began “using non-traditional techniques during nontraditional hours” to engage with the communities he wanted to serve.
Tactics to Try
- Eat at area restaurants and ask about being a speaker or advertising opportunities
- Speak with religious leaders
- Visit doctors’ offices to learn about the programs and services they offer
After a few visits, some of these locations allowed Escalante to hang flyers. This, coupled with an announcement made during a church service by a local priest, dramatically increased enrollment in the program. “You must embed yourself into the communities you are serving,” Escalante asserts. “Reaching the correct populations is vital for any program to succeed … but it has become more than just programs; it has become a platform for conversations, awareness and information.”
For libraries hoping to launch similar initiatives, Escalante recommends keeping a positive attitude, having clear objectives, and thinking outside the box. For programs targeting seniors, Escalante suggests librarians remember how challenging technologies can be for senior populations. Having a program that slowly, simply and directly walks them through the steps of registration and participation is key.