Emerging Technology Planning: A Guide to e-Readers and Online Services for Older Adults


The lectures and readings have demonstrated that many libraries are transitioning from the traditional model to the hyperlinked model of participatory service. The senior community has witnessed and experienced the traditional model and are now learning to adapt to the “new” technology-driven library. There are many senior assisted living communities in the city of Placentia and Placentia Library is a frequent destination for seniors. The library has just reopened after a year-long renovation and new technologies such as the Makerspace was a highlight for the community. Currently, many programs in the Makerspace are suited for children and their families, with no designated services for older adults. In fact, there are no current or planned programs or services geared towards our older patrons.

The need for guidance into digital world is an obvious fact. Staff has reported that many of these older patrons request a title that is only available in through our digital collection or call the library with questions pertaining to accessing e-books or online services on their devices. Occasionally, a senior member of the community brings their e-reader device to the information desk to ask staff for assistance. Staff have basic knowledge regarding the various digital services, however accessibility varies from each device and the information desk does not have enough staff to spend more than 5 minutes with a patron.

Goals/Objectives for Technology/Service:

There is much more to public libraries than what meets the eye. Libraries are growing their digital collection and raising awareness to the online services they have to offer. Older adults may not be as tech-savvy as their younger counterparts and can benefit from library assistance. This program would allow an opportunity for the library to help bridge the digital divide. Patrons will be given an overview of our digital databases, including Overdrive and Libby, and be encouraged to come with their own devices and any questions that our expert staff can answer. Integrating technology into our programs for older patrons can bring awareness to library services and promote emerging trends to the senior community. The goals and objective for this service are as follows:

1. Enrich the lives of the senior community by introducing a guide to Placentia Library’s digital collection.

2. Foster participatory service by offering user-centered programs.

3. Promote lifelong learning through technological advances and emerging trends.

4. Encourage elderly patrons to engage and participate in the technological opportunities the library has to offer.

5. Build and strengthen the relationship between Placentia Library and the senior community.

Description of Community you wish to engage:

I wish to engage the senior community and the older patrons who are looking to use their e-readers to access Placentia Library’s digital collection or want to learn more about the online databases the library has to offer.

Action Brief Statement:

For patrons:

Convince older patrons that by attending the program that it is designed for their digital information needs they will learn to navigate and utilize the virtual aspect of the library which will enrich their digital knowledge and understanding of the modern world because the public library exists to break down any barriers to information.  

For library staff:

Convince library director and staff that by offering a guide to e-readers and online database to Placentia Library’s older patrons they will increase awareness of our digital collection and databases offered online which will help build a relationship between the library and its senior community because patrons will trust the library to be their guide through the modern technological era.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:

Brooklyn Public Library. (2019). One on one technology training. Retrieved from https://www.bklynlibrary.org/calendar/one-one-technology-brighton-beach-library-20191017-0

Institute of Museum and Library Services. (2012). Talking points: Libraries keep seniors engaged and connected. Retrieved from https://www.imls.gov/sites/default/files/publications/documents/seniors.pdf

Moon, B. (2019). E-book borrowing: What you need to know. Lifewire. Retrieved from https://www.lifewire.com/borrow-library-books-on-ereaders-2740425

Schadt, E. M. (2016). Library spotlight: Senior programs at Westerville public library. Webjunction. Retrieved from https://www.webjunction.org/news/webjunction/westerville-senior-outreach-programs.html

Singer, D. & Agosto, D. (2014). Reaching senior patrons in the digitized library. Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2014/01/reaching-senior-patrons-in-the-digitized-library/

Sloan, M. & Vincent, J. (2009). Library services for older people: Good practice guide. Retrieved from https://www.seapn.org.uk/uploads/files/Library-services-good-practice-guide-1336795.pdf

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology/Service:

The program will follow the same guidelines and policies set forth by the Placentia Library for all of its technology-based programs and services. This program requires the use of the internet and Multnomah County Library has an example of an Internet use policy. Since the program is scheduled to be conducted in the Makerspace, the policy states that all attendees will need to sign a liability release form. The Library Director will be consulted in the creation of additional policies and the Library Board of Trustees will be presented with policies to implement for the program if necessary. The mission of this program should also reflect Placentia Library’s mission and centennial vision statement.

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: (Some projects may require staff time, in-kind contributions, pro-bono contracts. Others may require promised funding or cash. Grants? Donations? Fund-Raising?) It is not necessary for this project to request additional funding because the space for the program and the technological resources are already provided. The program would be located in the makerspace and the library already owns a laptop cart and an iPad cart, both of which can be booked for the program. A reason to push for this initiative was to be able to assist individuals who wanted to access e-books on their tablets or mobile devices. Although patrons will be encouraged to bring their own devices, it is helpful to have some of the devices on hand. Many patrons access our digital collection through Kindle, and the library does not currently own any Kindles. If there is flexibility in the budget for programming, 2 Kindle tablets can be purchased for the program.

Action Steps & Timeline: New programs and services are submitted to the Public Services Manager twice a year for pre-approval. The Library Director will have the final approval on project. If project is not approved, the duration and reoccurrence of the program can be scaled back. Instead of offering this program once a week for one hour, it could be offered biweekly or in half hour increments. Pending approval, the timeline for this project would be 6 months.

Timeline for A Guide to e-Readers and Online Databases for Older Adults:

  1. Initial preparation and development of program by Makerspace Library Assistant
  2. Submit project for pre-approval to Public Services Manager (1 week)
  3. Possible changes and final approval by Library Director (1 month)
  4. Further program development and recruitment of volunteers by Makerspace Library Assistant (3 months)
  5. Send in purchase order for any supplies and tablets that need to be acquired (1 month)
  6. Submit request for use of library laptop cart and iPad cart during scheduled time. (1 week)
  7. Train volunteers on to use online databases and how to access them from various devices. (1 session-3 hours)
  8. Promote the program at the Senior Center and all senior living communities in Placentia. (2 months)

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

(1 full-time Library Assistant + 2 volunteers)

With the addition of a brand-new makerspace, the library has recently hired a full-time Library Assistant dedicated to the development and maintenance of makerspace-related programs. Currently, all makerspace programs are geared towards the younger generation and their families. These programs are scheduled during the late afternoons and early evenings to accommodate for children’s school schedules and parents’ work schedules. The makerspace currently remains unstaffed in the mornings.

To “find” hours for the program, the schedule of the Makerspace Library Assistant would need to be adjusted. This would take away time from the Makerspace open hours, shaving an hour off each of the 3 open hour days. The bulk of the staff hours will be the development of the program. Running and maintaining the program will require no more than 2-3 hours a week including time for preparation, conducting the program and completing board reports for analysis. It is planned to offer this program one hour every week on a Tuesday morning when many of the older patrons tend to browse the library.

Recruiting volunteers to assist with the program is an option to explore. Instead of using additional staff hours, volunteers can be trained and utilized to help program attendees with their questions. Depending on the program turnout, more volunteers can be trained in the future.

Training for this Technology or Service:

All library staff receive basic online database training as part of their orientation. Library supervisors are required to attend additional training sessions on key online databases and services. A library supervisor will train the Makerspace Library Assistant to use the online databases, with an emphasis on downloading e-books to a device. This training will occur 3 months before the projected program start date. If necessary, the Makerspace Library Assistant will conduct further research to fill in any gaps.

Volunteer training will be designed by the Makerspace Library Assistant. Training will take place 1 week before the projected start date. All training is to be completed in a 3-hour long session. Training is as near as possible to the start date to ensure volunteers retain the information and are given enough time to ask questions. Training will consist of an overview of all online databases and services provided, as well as an in-depth instruction to Overdrive and Libby.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: 

The standard operating procedure for library program marketing is timed social media posts, website posts, in-house flyers, and the bi-annual library newsletter. This program is specifically targeted towards the senior community and many older adults are do not yet have an online presence. In addition to the standard marketing technique, library staff will reach out to the local senior center and senior living communities to promote the program. By sending library staff to visit these places, this creates an opportunity to build a relationship with the older community and discuss the benefits of the program. Word-of-mouth is still the best form of advertisement and by sending a staff member to have a conversation about the program will draw in more people than tacking a flyer onto a bulletin board.


To evaluate the program, attendance statistics will be collected from each session. Staff and volunteers will provide feedback on how many patrons they were able to help successfully and any limiting factors for patrons they were not able to assist. A participatory service welcomes user input and creativity (Stephens, 2011). To continue to improve the program to meet the patrons’ needs, patrons will be encouraged to fill out a short survey at the end of each session for the data to be compiled and analyzed.

With the latest trend of the Makerspace and influence of technology in public libraries, many programs and services have been focusing on the future, or in this case, children. The whole idea of the hyperlinked library is to create a user-based space filled with innovative technology to connect the community to the 21st century. However, the community is not just made of children, but there are older adults that can benefit from this movement too. This service would be a great story to add to the many stories about building programs to help older patrons close the gap between the digital divide. This program will provide an introduction to the wonders of technology and encourage seniors to explore the digital world.

If successful, this service could be expanded by sending staff members to the senior center or senior living communities to perform outreach programming. Bringing the technology to the patrons can stimulate interest and curiosity from other senior members and strengthen the relationship between the library and its community.


American Library Association. (2010). Keys to engaging older adults at your library: Libraries can empower older adults with engaging programs and services. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aboutala/sites/ala.org.aboutala/files/content/olos/toolkits/olderadults/oat.sequential.pdf

Multnomah County. (2012). Acceptable use of the Internet and library public computers. Retrieved from https://multcolib.org/acceptable-use-internet-and-library-public-computers

Stephens, M. (2011). The hyperlinked library. Retrieved from http://mooc.hyperlib.sjsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/StephensHyperlinkedLibrary2011.pdf

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