The Public Libraries Initiative

Libraries, the most universal and most democratic of America’s cultural institutions, are “age neutral” and so appeal to older adults who are reluctant to go to senior centers. Increasingly important as community centers for learning and cultural access, libraries are ideally positioned to evolve as centers for creative aging.

Started in 2008, Lifetime Arts’ Public Libraries Initiative is based on a vision for mobilizing the trusted, information-rich public space of the library to deliver arts education for and with older adults. That vision includes building effective collaborations between teaching artists and librarians and building the capacity of different library systems to carry out and sustain creative aging programs. Our work to date affirms this vision. Teaching artists and librarians find that they share a vision for positive aging and bring complementary strengths to designing and implementing meaningful programs for older adults.

This nationally recognized program provides incentive grants, access to great teaching artists and on-going technical assistance for public libraries. Led by professional teaching artists, libraries implement skill-building workshop series which foster mastery and promote meaningful social engagement – two key ingredients for positive aging. These free programs (in all arts disciplines) help improve the quality of life for participants. At each library, culminating events celebrate the achievements of every participant.

Current Project Overviews:

Creative Aging in America’s Libraries Project

With funding from IMLS, and in partnership with Westchester Library System, AARP Foundation, American Library Association’s Public Program Office, and Selfhelp Community Services, Lifetime Arts will establish the Lifetime Arts Library Affiliate Network. Working with 20 public library systems in 12 states, the project will significantly expand the number of “creative aging libraries” through a systematic, regionally-organized process of training, technical assistance, peer networking, partnership development and incentive funding.

Past Project Overviews:

Partnering Library Systems: