May 27, 2022

Study to Find Better Ways Libraries Can Serve Older Constituents Receives IMLS Grant

From the University of Buffalo:

Librarians have no trouble designing programs to entice children and young adults. There’s an established academic and research history defining what preschoolers to teens prefer in a library, and how librarians can provide fun, useful programs and services.

But what about older people, such as baby boomers? Too often these mature groups are too diverse in culture, interests and occupations for librarians to do more than guess at what their older constituents would enjoy and use.

Enter Valerie M. Nesset, associate professor in the Graduate School of Education and creator of the university-wide Faculty IT Liaison Program. Funded by a $451,667 grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Nesset is working to answer this question, and give librarians a proven way they can find the best programs to meet their constituents’ needs.


Unfortunately, unlike with children’s and young adult services that enjoy a long history of specialized research and education, there is little empirical research or education specific to older populations,” says Nesset, a faculty member in GSE’s Department of Information Science who specializes in digital media and learning, literacy, information science and information literacy.

“Practicing librarians may not be sufficiently equipped to determine what programming and services would best meet their older patrons’ needs,” she says. “Therefore, what often happens is that programming for older adults either does not exist because they are grouped together with other adults, no matter the age differences, or the programming is based on what the particular librarian thinks the older adults want.”

Nesset’s research sets out to change that.

The project establishes a partnership between the Department of Information Science and three libraries — urban, suburban and rural, chosen because of the diversity of the populations they serve — within the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library system. The project will answer the primary research question: How can the Bonded Design framework promote communication and collaboration among librarians and older adults in the design of meaningful and relevant programming?

Read the Complete Article

See Also: Direct to Complete Research Proposal:  Producing Productive Public Library Programming for Older Adults: A Participatory Design Approach (via IMLS)
22 pages; PDF. 

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.