By Ed Friedman
It’s National Library Week (April 10-16). But rather than whisper we’d like to loudly acknowledge all the great work that emanates from libraries throughout the country. Of course, at Lifetime Arts, we have long recognized the value of public libraries as community cultural centers. Additionally, they are safe havens, oases if you will for many older adults who stay away from senior centers where participants find only older people and whose program offerings are often uninspired.
In contrast public libraries embrace individuals across the age spectrum. They are in communities across the country, and their programs are free and accessible. Beyond the expected books and computer terminals you can now find art exhibits, concerts, poetry readings and theatre performances. And when a library has embraced creative aging you can also learn a variety of visual arts, sing in a choir, write poetry or fiction, or learn acting.
A look at some of our Past Program Overviews on our web site reveals the wide range of instructional arts programs that have happened. Thanks to the Institute of Museum and Library Services and our partnership with the Westchester Library System we’ve been able to offer the opportunity to twenty three library systems in thirteen states.
The value of these programs go beyond the considerable benefit of learning, a feeling of accomplishment, and sharing that gift with friends and family. The sequential nature of these programs give participants the opportunity to strengthen their social network (and I don’t mean on Facebook.) New friendships are formed and continue long after the workshop sessions end. In many cases participants in the workshops continue to meet – some socially, and some continue their artistic pursuits together. In one of our most dramatic results, a couple who were participating in a choir in a Staten Island library announced their engagement at the culminating event!
So head to your local library check out what they’re offering, I’ll bet you’ll say “Wow, I didn’t know they have that here!”
But do it in your indoor voice.
A little extra for those of you who are theatrically inclined.
Keep an eye out for the next “Ed Talk!” Coming soon.
Artwork by Lisa Curran
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