Go4Life in Libraries Report – Spring 2019

Map of respondents to Go4Life in Libraries Survey (5 Canadian, 91 American)

In Spring 2019, 96 public libraries from the U.S. and Canada completed the “Go4Life in Libraries” survey. This survey asked librarians about: 1) physical activity programs they offer for older adults, 2) their interest in offering such programs, and 3) the partners they work with to bring these programs to their communities. This webpage contains the results from this survey. We welcome your feedback as we work to make this dataset useful to librarians and library partners! Please contact us with thoughts that this report sparks.

Learn more about Go4Life, which is an initiative of the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health. Thanks to everyone who completed this survey!

Go4Life and Let’s Move in Libraries have been working together since Summer 2018. This report will inform future collaborations.

This report contains the analysis of this data-set. The full data-set is being made publicly available with a Creative Commons license: CC BY-NC (Attribution-Non-Commercial). Please feel free to download and use this data. Just let us know what you develop from it.

What types of physical activity programs (if any) have you offered for older adults at your library?

6 respondents said they had not offered any such programs, 90 said that they had

Most commonly offered exercise programs for older adults among responding libraries.

This figure displays the most commonly offered types of exercise programs. Fully 2/3 of respondents indicated that they offer Yoga for older adults, making it by far the most common type of program. Second, 36 (over 1/3) said they offered Tai Chi and/or QiGong. Third, 20 said they offered walking programs, either outdoors or inside the library. The other types of programs that more five or more respondents indicated they offer include: Dancing-16, Zumba-13, Unspecified group fitness-12, Pilates-5, and Geri-Fit-5.

After these, a long tail of offer types of programs were specified. These include: 4 cardio, 3 General strength, 3 General stretching, 2 – B.A.S.E., 2 – Stationary Bike / Under the desk pedaler, 2 – Fit and Fall proof, 2 – Couch to 5K, 2 – Exercise is Medicine, 2 – Self defense, 2 – Special Summer Reading Program, 1 – Bone Builders, 1 – Pickleball, 1 – fencing, 1 – martial arts, 1 – Mayo Clinic Exercise Routine, 1 – Sit and Be Fit, and 1- Wii Bowling.

This data derives from coding the open-ended responses of librarians. Some librarians gave very detailed answers to this prompt. Some of the more detailed responses include:

  1. 30/30 gentle exercise; 30 minutes spent in gentle aerobics and 30 minutes spent in yoga type stretching. The class is taught by a nurse employed at a local medical center as the employee health and fitness nurse.
  2. A Summer Reading Bingo card highlighting health activities for all ages.
  3. Memory cafe programs have included movement with dance, genetal programs have included Active Aging Week programs with yoga, tai chi, African dance, and warmups with the former Mallwalkers program (discontinued by its sponsor in 2018).
  4. offer quarterly yoga under the stars; followed by using telescopes to view sky.
  5. Outside instructors use our auditorium to teach yoga, tai chi,, and Zumba. Our library has recently started a walking book club that meets once a month at a wildlife refuge.
  6. Short, easy hikes on local trails.
  7. The library hosts an annual Man, WV on the Move walk in April of each year for adults. This is to promote walking as a way to exercise. A Gentle Yoga class is in the plans for this year. We also hold a Kids on the Move walk each year for children.
  8. Walks around town, with specific themes for each walk. Ex. historical, conservation, plants, trees, architecture
  9. We have an exercise group that meets 4 times per week, they do walking, aerobics, and tai chi.
  10. We host a bimonthly Line Dancing program during the day, indicated for older adults. We have also partnered with an organization that specializes in health informational programs for older adults to offer exercise tips for individuals with osteoporosis, fall avoidance, and gentle yoga.
  11. Weekly walks around town, with a different theme each week. eg. Famous people in town, cemeteries, conservation area/trails, downtown architecture, ghost walks, history of town, mushrooms, trees, weeds, poetry walks, Book-it in the library (walk the stairs while talking about library artifact history
  12. BoneBuilders program that is run by a local elder care facility. It focuses on balance and strength for seniors.
  13. We have Yoga. Sometimes with animal friends. We also have other fitness classes such as walking groups and Pilates.
  14.  In January we started the Geri-Fit study and fitness class. We have 13 signed up for the study and 16 participating in the class. I already have 14 more signed up for the second class I’ll be offering when the study is over.
  15. We have a Senior Strength series which offers low impact chair exercises, and we’ve offered Tai Chi, and line dancing before which have appealed to seniors.

2) How often, on average, are these programs offered at your library?

2 respondents did not answer this question, leaving 88 responses

How often these programs are offered among responding libraries.

Respondents were asked how often they offer these programs. Twenty-eight respondents selected the “other” option and then specified what they meant. These open-ended responses were reduced to the categories available, and the option “Three times a week” was expanded to “Three times a week or more.”

This data suggest libraries most commonly offer exercise programs for older adults once a week, with the following most common options being twice a week, less than once a month, three times a week or more and only once (tied), and once a month.

Taken together, 60 respondents (2/3 of the sample) said that they offered exercise programs for older adults once a week or more frequently at their libraries.

3) For how long have you offered any of these programs?

Answered by 88 respondents

For how long have these programs been offered?

Respondents were given an open-ended prompt to fill in how long their libraries have offered these programs for older adults. Those answers were coded into the categories displayed in this figure.

The most common response was for 3-5 years (n=32), followed by 6-10 years (n=18), 1-2 years (n=17), less than one year (n=9), more than 10 years (n=9) and unspecified (n=3). Those who did not specify wrote the following: “Annual,” “Each Summer,” and “Many Years.”

Remarkably, one respondent said “We have offered Yoga for over 30 years. The Chair Yoga, Senior Fitness, Zumba Gold and Tai Chi are for at least 5 years.”

4) Who runs the programs? (Circle all that apply.)

All 90 respondents answered this question

Who runs these programs at public libraries?

Respondents were asked to indicate who runs these programs at their libraries. Seven ticked the “other” option. Those “other” responses were able to be coded into the five options from which respondents could specify.

The most common leader of these programs is an outside, paid contractor (n=47), followed by a volunteer (n=42), a library staff member (n=40), a  local community organization (n=22), and no instructor [in the case of vide0-based programs] (n=10).

Note that “library staff” by themselves was only answered by 8. In other words, 32 of those who selected the “library staff” option also checked another box, suggesting that library staff may co-lead or supervise these programs, but not be the primary leaders. The types of programs that these 8 respondents gave suggest that in some cases the programs were video-based and respondents did not know how to respond (Geri-Fit appears three times), walking programs (n=3), or yoga programs (n=3) (perhaps led by a library staff member who is a certified Yoga instructor). One respondent wrote that they offered “a Summer Reading Bingo card highlighting health activities for all ages.”

5) Have you worked with any of the following individuals or institutions to develop these programs? (Check all that apply)

Only answered by 73 respondents

Most common partners for physical activity programs in public libraries.

Respondents were asked to indicate, from a list of options, what external entities they had worked with to develop these programs. By far the most common external partner is an individual instructor (n=60), followed by a senior or community center (n=19), Other (n=16), a fitness studio (n=13), or a gym (n=3).

Other responses included a range of regional and national partners: Age Well of Vermont, Central District Health, County Agricultural Extension (twice), Elder care/assisted living facility, Geri-fit program (twice), Healthy Logan County, Historical Commission, Conservation Land Trust, Garden Club, Local Hospital, nonprofit community arts organization, OHAI – Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative, Physical Therapist (twice). And one person wrote that “with our new walking club – we will be working with our local senior center for the addition of teens & senior walking buddies.”

6) How did the relationship start?

Answered by 74

How did the partnership between the library and the external entity start?

Respondents were given three options to this question: Library reached out, External entity reached out, or Other. Fully 22 respondents checked the “other” box. Nearly all of those indicated in their open-ended responses that “both” activities led to this partnership starting. Overall this data show that in general these programs tend to start more often because of the activity of library staff, as opposed to activities of external entity. In other words, library staff are more likely to seek partners than external entities are to approach library staff.

Here are a selection of open ended responses that those who checked the “other” box left for this question:
Another branch was employing this nurse instructor for classes.
Depending on the situation, either the library contacted the instructor or the instructor contacted the library
RSVP reached out to the community
The instructor used to be a library employee
The library reached out to some, Geri-fit was an opportunity listed on a website
We already had a back and forth exchange of programs and information going and they happened to have a tai chi instructor available the summer we had a sports themed summer reading
We have a group of paid library presenters, including tai chi and yoga instructors
We’ve reached out and they have
Yoga was volunteered by an individual, for Tai Chi we reached out to the Senior Center, and English Country Dancing was something a staff member could do

7) What challenges did you encounter in developing these partnerships with outside entities, or in implementing their programs at your library? (Check all that apply.)

Answered by 71

Challenged related to partnership-based physical activity programs in public libraries.

Respondents were given a list of options, and asked to indicate which (if any of them) had been challenges associated with their partnerships with external entities. The most common challenges included the cost of these programs, or how to fund them (n=35), space issues (n=24), community interest (n=16), concern for legal liability in case of injury (15), staff oversight of programs (n=12), none (n=12) and other (n=8).

Of those who selected the other box, 3 said instructor issues, 3 marketing issues, 1 said liability issues, and 1 did not include a response.

8) What steps (if any) have you taken to address these challenges?

Answered by 55, and three of those said there were no challenges to address.

What challenges had to be addressed to make these programs work?

Respondents were given an open space to indicate how (if at all) they addressed challenges related to these programs. These responses were coded and sorted into the categories represented in this figure.

Responses grouped by these categories include:

  • Funding of programs
  1. ask Library Friends for monetary support
  2. done some fundraising to offer payment to instructors
  3. Donations were sought from local organizations and businesses
  4. asked Foundation for assistance, increased budget requests
  5. Funding from grants and Friends of Library group
  6. increased programming budget
  7. Request funding from Foundation
  8. Cost and funding are still being looked at to determine ability of hosting more programs.
  9. the costs are passed on to the participants
  10. due to funding, we do not offer the program every month
  11. The library has agreed to pay half the costs, while the participants pick up the other half
  12. The only issue we had was that we didn’t have a TV to show the Geri-Fit videos. We contacted one of our generous donors, and they purchased a large screen TV, DVD player, and a cart to mount both so they are mobile.
  13. We charge a minimal fee and make the program pay for itself
  14. We do have to limit the number of times that we schedule the presenters whose fees come out of our program budget, as we do present a wide range of programs so no one group can predominate.
  15. we pay a little more
  16. We have used the library budget to fund these programs to keep them free
  17. we try to find volunteers and an instructor who is reasonably priced
  18. We used to do a gentle yoga program as well but had to cut it due to costs
  19. Where possible tried to find people willing to volunteer time
  • Legal concerns
  1. Developed a disclaimer/waiver
  2. Waivers with Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative are signed by participants
  3. the instructor now has a waiver
  4. We haven’t solved the space issue or legal issue, we just have the classes anyway and do the best we can.
  5. We have a liability waiver that students sign before the session.
  6. For legal liability we start programs with a disclaimer that the program is offered at the participants own risk, and to go at each individual’s own pace.
  7. Cleared through our library attorneys
  8. Liability form to be signed by all first-time attendees
  9. Instructor has to carry liability insurance against someone getting hurt and each participant signs a liability waiver.
  10. Talk with our insurance provider to make sure we had the appropriate coverage.
  11. waiver of liability
  12. waivers to be signed by participants,
  13. waivers
  14. We added an additional session and for space issues looked at how to maximize the space while still adhering to fire code. Adding the 2nd session reduced people trying to bring in chairs/over fill the space.
  15. We have a waiver everyone signs, we have a policy now in place, we tell the instructor that library has priority over space if necessary.
  • Partnership issues
  1. negotiate costs with each instructor
  2. Formed partnership with fitness facility, asked Foundation for assistance
  3. We do have to limit the number of times that we schedule the presenters whose fees come out of our program budget, as we do present a wide range of programs so no one group can predominate.
  4. We have more substitutes available
  5. we try to find volunteers and an instructor who is reasonably priced
  6. Explained to some instructors that the money comes from the Friends of the Library group and the library itself has minimal program funding.
  7. Maintaining communication with the Community Center officials. Makes it easier to take complaints and work easily together.
  8. One staff person is designated as the liaison; facilitator understands that the meeting space may have to change if there is an overriding space need.
  9. The partnership with a paid instructor for Zumba did not work out. I was able to set up those classes at the Legion and they are still continuing to have these classes weekly now going on 6 years.  All of our current classes are offered free and provided by staff or volunteers.
  10. We only bring in an outside instructor on a very occasional basis
  11. We’ve partnered with outside organizations that can provide a more functional space for physical activity – namely the local university and college, senior center, mall (which offers a large space for walking)
  • Marketing issues
  1. trying multiple communication sources to best reach target audience
  2. Advertising in different places
  3. Be more varied in our advertising of these types of programs.
  4. Better advertising
  5. better use of social media for advertising programs
  6. Get the word out about what is offered in every possible format.
  7. personal encouragement of patrons by individual staff to “enjoy with us…”
  8. Trying to reach out the COA to promote word of mouth
  9. we advertise at local medical centers, hospitals, grocery stores, and churches.
  10. We list the programs in the newspaper, the library newsletter, weekly news blast, library website, Facebook
  • Space issues
  1. we book the space a year in advance.
  2. facilitator understands that the meeting space may have to change if there is an overriding space need.
  3. planning ahead to reserve the meeting room space
  4. We haven’t solved the space issue or legal issue, we just have the classes anyway and do the best we can.
  5. Only offer at certain libraries where space allows for the program
  6. Space continues to be a challenge; being able to offer a program on the same day and time weekly or bimonthly.
  7. We added an additional session and for space issues looked at how to maximize the space while still adhering to fire code. Adding the 2nd session reduced people trying to bring in chairs/over fill the space.
  8. made the classes a priority for meeting room use
  9. Space can be a challenge but we are pretty good at identifying alternatives within our bldg. when needed
  10. space issue – offer at nearby branch as well to try to spread out participants
  • Expanding programs
  1. We added an additional session and for space issues looked at how to maximize the space while still adhering to fire code. Adding the 2nd session reduced people trying to bring in chairs/over fill the space.
  2. space issue – offer at nearby branch as well to try to spread out participants
  3. Cost and funding are still being looked at to determine ability of hosting more programs.
  4. Add programs at nearby branch
  5. added another class
  6. we moved our popular chair yoga program to the Senior Center. they have a built-in exercise studio and can better accommodate the large group than we can!
  • Staffing programs with library staff
  1. Staff is in the room during each program.
  2. One staff person is designated as the liaison
  3. scheduling staff as part of regular adult programming
  4. Minimize cost by using library staff as much as possible. Extend hours for part time staff person to help cover the programs.
  5. Staff Reorganization within the library system.
  6. We had a gap in filling a position that has since been filled.
  • Timing of programs
  1. being able to offer a program on the same day and time weekly or bimonthly.
  2. Because we have finite program budgets, we tend to rotate programs where we pay an outside entity; this means we tend to offer single programs more than multi session programs.
  3. changing dates and times to attract new audiences
  4. experimenting with days and times
  5. We maneuvered the times and classes around to make them fit.
  • Community interest
  1. we have tried one or two one off programs to test the waters on interest
  2. We haven’t tried again recently because interest was low last time.

9) If an outside entity is interested in offering an exercise program for older adults at your library, what are the three most important steps you would recommend they take?

This question was answered by 50

Important steps External entities should take to make these partnerships work.

Respondents were given an open space to answer this question. Those responses were coded and categorized into the categories that appear in this figure. The full text of respondents include:

  • Communication
  1. An email proposal for the program with the break down of what is done, experience with working with older adults, and if they have done it elsewhere to then get the information of the place they’ve hosted a program to see how it went and how the person was with older adults.
  2. be careful about cancelling classes (especially at the last minute)
  3. Be clear on what is being offered.
  4. Clear communication is key to best understand expectation of each other, expectations for the class, who is responsible for what, advertising and cost.
  5. clear policy as to room use and authority, registration and payment details worked out ahead of time.
  6. Co-sponsor with local council on aging
  7. collaboration details
  8. Consider cost, scheduling availability, and commitment to the project
  9. contact me (programming coordinator)
  10. contact the library
  11. Contact the library staff in charge of programming
  12. Contact Us! We’ll try anything once.
  13. Fill out an application
  14. fill out our new programming request forms
  15. Give us a clear description of what they will be offering
  16. have a clear idea of what they can offer
  17. Have a clear proposal of what’s being offered
  18. Please be clear about the library’s and your expectations: pay/volunteer, how often, availability, is it okay to advertise your business, who will provide fitness equipment if needed, liability if someone gets hurt.
  19. please contact libraries
  20. Present at the Library trustees: have a plan in place
  21. send a full proposal of the program (cost, references, instructor’s qualifications, description of event) over email. phone calls are easily missed and get lost.
  22. talk to the person in charge of adult programming
  23. They should apply to be presenters at Pima County Public Library. Then they can get paid for offering the classes.
  24. They should email the Adult Programmer with what they teach and their credentials, and we will respond if and when we have a need.
  25. understand that registration for 20 does not mean attendance of 20 when the program is free
  • Budget
  1. a reasonable price point
  2. Ask if they are willing to offer free classes.
  3. be flexible on pricing
  4. be flexible with time, frequency, and pricing;
  5. be reasonably priced (free is best!)
  6. be willing to offer class for free or a free will donation.
  7. Call and speak with the branch manager to discuss programming ideas and space.
  8. Consider doing for free or discounted as a way to advertise your services
  9. consider what you will charge if anything. Be open to doing this for free, libraries will love you!
  10. cost
  11. Cost
  12. Explain that you will charge each person a reasonable price per cost.
  13. figure out what the costs would be per person including rent costs
  14. if they expect payment, provide an invoice to the library along with a W-9, a copy of their insurance and a copy of their business license.
  15. Libraries can rarely afford instructors over $50 per session
  16. look for available grants to get it started
  17. Offer it at no or very low cost.
  18. offer programs for free or donation cost
  19. Please be clear about the library’s and your expectations: pay/volunteer
  20. Tell us what it will cost us
  • Instructor
  1. we care first about your professional qualifications and second about your ability to work with diverse populations. this should be thoughtfully conveyed.
  2. understand that while you can leave business cards for participants to take that you may not use the class as a a means of direct advertising for your business.
  3. They have insurance as a fitness instructor
  4. The instructor needs to be certified
  5. Provide educational materials to complement the program.
  6. Please be clear about the library’s and your expectations: is it okay to advertise your business, who will provide fitness equipment if needed
  7. make sure the person is trained in what they offer, and certified, if need be.
  8. I would suggest making sure the difficulty range is there – with Chair Yoga she emphasizes doing the exercises at the level you feel comfortable. Making sure they have qualifications and references.
  9. I would emphasize that we prioritize working with established non-profits, and would need to know that anyone who did not fit that category had significant experience working with older adults, and appropriate references.
  10. Experience of presenter
  11. consider suggesting other needs such as mats, towels, recommended clothing, etc.
  12. Certified from an appropriate entity, permission to use any materials or programs they are presenting e.g. videos, good communication of the program since we do not do marketing for outside (non library sponsored) programs
  13. be aware of older adult limitations, have a program that can be modified accordingly.
  14. Ask to see their resume and credentials. Ask for recommendations.
  15. An email proposal for the program with the break down of what is done, experience with working with older adults, and if they have done it elsewhere to then get the information of the place they’ve hosted a program to see how it went and how the person was with older adults.
  16. a dependable person who will make a commitment
  17. likely need someone at specific dates and times that will be committed to following through.
  18. have a knowledgeable instructor.
  19. make sure they have a dependable instructor
  20. be specific about the skill level or physical requirements and any equipment or gear those attending need to bring with them
  • Scheduling
  1. likely need someone at specific dates and times that will be committed to following through.
  2. Available space for each class.
  3. be flexible on timing
  4. be flexible with time, frequency, and pricing;
  5. Be flexible.
  6. choose a time wisely
  7. finding a time that is best for participants (usually daytime for our senior participants)
  8. flexibility
  9. have an idea of when the library is open and your availability
  10. Let us know at least 3 months ahead, ideally as early as possible, we book our programs well in advance, a season at a time, at least 3 months out
  11. Please be clear about the library’s and your expectations: how often, availability
  12. review our meeting room guidelines and make sure we have space/times available.
  13. Schedule well in advance.
  14. Schedule well in advance. We already have a very full schedule.
  15. Space availability and timing of program
  16. staffing, and time constraints
  17. Try to work with their time frame.
  18. We would need to find time to offer it around our set schedules.
  • Marketing
  1. advertise
  2. advertise among their constituents.
  3. Advertise heavily.
  4. Advertise program
  5. advertise widely
  6. Co-promote with the library
  7. Get the word out
  8. good communication of the program since we do not do marketing for outside (non library sponsored) programs
  9. help us advertise x 3!
  10. helping to spread the word about the event to their community contacts
  11. offer to help promote the programs
  12. publicize at nearby senior centers/senior lunches
  13. publicize at senior residences.
  • Needs assessment
  1. assess community needs
  2. Determine interest, Determine location
  3. Find out if there is interest for the program
  4. Keep in mind their reluctant audience
  5. let the library gauge the interest level in the community either through surveys or by setting a minimum registration which if not met, will allow the outside entity a way to cancel
  6. looking at our space to make sure it suits the activity
  7. research the library to see if they’ve hosted the program (or something similar) recently (i’m often contacted by meditation folks- we already offer it!)
  8. See the space in person
  9. Start with a series (4-6 weeks) to gauge interest
  10. they practice their class with a group of their target audience to get feedback
  11. Use a poll to determine interest and participation before starting program
  12. We first had a sign up list to see if we would have enough participation to proceed.
  • Legal
  1. A liability waiver for each participant to sign before beginning.
  2. Discuss liability waivers with an attorney
  3. Get liability insurance to cover them (their business)
  4. Have a liability form already drawn up for participants.
  5. if the instructor doesn’t carry liability insurance, the Library has them sign a workers comp waiver
  6. liability if someone gets hurt.
  7. mention insurance or liability waiver asap
  8. Recommend medical clearance from doctor.
  9. Safety, signed agreements
  10. waiver
  11. We would need the entity to have their own insurance (and provide us a copy)

10) What are three tips that are essential for the success of a collaboration between libraries and outside entities, in terms of offering exercise programs for older adults?

Answered by 39

What makes these collaborations work?

Respondents were given an open space to answer this question however they saw fit. These open-ended responses were then grouped into the categories that appear in this figure.

  • Instructor
  1. Be open to the presenter/instructor’s schedule.
  2. Consistency – choose a day of the week and time and stick to it. Have more than one instructor who can teach the class (good sub list.)
  3. consistency, reliability, and clear plan
  4. Cost, timing of programs, and length of programs
  5. Don’t be too expensive!
  6. encourage flexibility and adjustments when working with older people who need to exercise from chairs or who have other limitations.
  7. Explain that the instructor must be reliable and require that they find their own replacement if they can’t be at class.
  8. flexible scheduling
  9. Have an instructor who is used to working with a senior population.
  10. make sure people feel comfortable around the instructor
  11. make sure the program is cost effective.
  12. making sure instructors are competent and teach well
  13. price and flexible day / time
  14. reliability, responsibility, knowledge and flexibility.
  15. set clear expectations about what success looks like (how many participants, how many weeks are we going to offer, etc);
  16. the instructor is able and willing to offer their classes free of charge and on a regular basis, and they can commit to a 12 week span of time.
  17. The right instructor, time offered for program, Keep it free to public!
  18. time of day program is offered
  19. volunteer their services; offer program free to participants
  • Teamwork and mutual understanding
  1. the library manages the advertising, room booking and registration on behalf of the instructor so that the partnership is balanced; the library collects the statistics and is able to use the data for reporting purposes
  2. Allow them to promote their business, via handouts or business cards.
  3. an appreciation of what each are bringing to the arrangement for their shared community.
  4. be flexible! we had our chair yoga instructor’s car break down on the way over. in a pinch, we put some chair yoga videos on the projection screen so those who were in attendance did not leave with nothing
  5. Communication and public participation by the library throughout the community is vital to attract and incorporate programs into the library.
  6. Decent pay for the instructor is nice, we have paid teachers and volunteers.
  7. Establish a cordial relationship.
  8. for us the cost has to be low
  9. mutual respect for time and physical space
  10. Partner closely with library staff to ensure adequate space and resources are available.
  11. Pay an instructor enough to be worth it
  12. paying the instructors
  13. Please be clear about the library’s and your expectations: pay/volunteer, how often, availability, is it okay to advertise your business, who will provide fitness equipment if needed, liability if someone gets hurt.
  14. Reasonable expectations as to frequency and use of facilities – as our facilities must be used for programming for kids, teens, and adults, in addition to use by outside entities for meetings.
  15. Respect for each others’ offerings and scheduling; clear division of responsibilities.
  16. respect for what other agencies in town offer
  17. Sharing a mission – that is tip 1-3!
  18. Treat instructor well and pay them on time. Handle the registration for them.
  • Communication with patrons and with library staff
  1. Be clear what the class will be like and that patrons should only do what they feel capable of doing.
  2. Communication – an understanding of our policies and how they might differ from their business goals.
  3. Communication and public participation by the library throughout the community is vital to attract and incorporate programs into the library.
  4. Communication with class provider and attendees. We have had to cancel quite a few classes last minute this winter due to weather – so making sure the communication and policies are in place.
  5. Communication, training for leaders and communication.
  6. Communication, written agreements,
  7. Communication!
  8. Concise communication
  9. establish times, fees, etc. in advance.; Plan what equipment will be needed – can it be stored at the library or does the outside agency need to bring it in each week or do participants need to bring specific items;
  10. excellent communication
  11. Follow up a week before program to check if anything is needed and all is well with the date/time. Ask what attendees should bring or wear.
  12. good communication
  13. Have a point person to communicate with the outside entity
  14. keep communication over email
  15. Show us that you have some experience working with seniors
  16. Understand limitations of outside entities. Abide by their requirements.
  • Community Interest – Understanding it and building it
  1. Advertise, ask the people in the group to get the word out
  2. allow time for promotion of classes
  3. Be able to assist with marketing to seniors
  4. be able to draw an audience / make sure this is something that the community really wants.
  5. be consistent in providing the class as far as date and time
  6. both the library and the outside entity need to publicize
  7. combined PR efforts
  8. commitment to continue programs for a minimum of 6 months to raise awareness of program and develop regular attendees
  9. level of participation needed and advertising
  10. Marketing the classes so that there are attendees
  11. the libraries role in the community strengthens with the diverse programming offered
  12. there has to be assurance of modifications for folks who can’t do as much physically, driving at night or in the winter may be an issue.
  13. Try different times and days of the week to find what is most popular.

11) If you do not currently work with any outside entities to deliver physical activity programming for older adults at your library, are you open to that possibility in the future?

Answered by 25

In response to this question, 21 said yes, 3 said maybe, and 1 said no.

12) If you answered YES or MAYBE to question #11, what are three steps that an outside entity would need to take to make this partnership work at your library?

Answered by 21

What should external entities do to partner with libraries?

Respondents were given an open space to answer this question however they wished. Their responses were grouped into these categories. Full responses include:

  • Communication and collaboration
  1. contact librarian; discuss format
  2. Identify what, if any, types of equipment or supplies would be needed.
  3. Contact me! I have trouble finding those willing to do this!
  4. collaborate with staff on teaching/leading the program
  5. Call the branch manager
  6. Contact me and I can see if we can work something out together.
  7. Contact the Adult Services Coordinator, Write a proposal that outlines their expectations from us and what they would be providing, include their costs and the duration of the partnership
  8. Contact us. I’m always looking for new connections.
  9. We would need to figure out a time and what equipment would be needed.
  10. Abide by library policy regarding marketing and volunteers
  11. make it accessible to the public, and not use the opportunity to try to promote their own business at the library
  12. We work with lots of community partners and we often reach out to organizations.
  • Budgetary matters
  1. It would need to be low-cost or free
  2. Partner on costs
  3. Identify sources that could fund equipment needs
  4. Ensure low cost or no cost
  5. no cost to participants
  6. Pricing would be a big issue.
  7. They would need to make the option free to the public and to the library (or very low cost to the library)
  • Flexibility
  1. I have talked our children’s multi-language exercise instructor and we will begin to invite seniors to join them. She is concerned that seniors may not like the music geared to children, but I suspect it will be popular and super low-impact. We will see!
  2. It would need to adapt to our limited space.
  3. We are in a small town, so we would need someone willing to travel to our area (as we don’t have many options here)
  4. Make sure we have the space available when they are available to teach
  5. Address space needs — our space is small. All programs geared to age in our tiny town end up attracting all ages– so we get infants through teens at kids’ programs, and teens through seniors at adult programs.
  • Instructor
  1. provide an instructor
  2. help provide instructors with expertise
  3. Be dependable & do what you say you’ll do. Be here & be happy to be here with our patrons. / Make sure your representative is friendly, understanding, flexible in attitude toward people who are reluctant
  4. Provide qualifications to lead the program
  • Community Need
  1. It would need to be different than the free classes offered at the city’s senior center one block away from the library.
  2. Assess level of interest of older adults and any specific physical activity interests.
  3. Offer a high interest class
  4. Our library mandate does not cover exercise programs. There would need to be a clear tie-in with our collections or services.
  • Legal
  1. Provide an insurance rider listing us as additional insured
  2. ensure that county/library not liable for injuries
  3. discuss liability
  • Marketing
  1. assist with marketing
  2.  assist in publicity

13) What would your library need to do internally to make such a collaboration possible?

Answered by 14

What should libraries do to make these partnerships work?

Respondents were given an open space to answer this question how they wished. Responses were grouped into the following categories:

  • Administrative Approval
  1. Director approval
  2. Get approval from the Library Board
  3. Get trustee approval; Consult with our insurance provider
  4. I would have to check with my bosses at city hall to see if there’s a problem with liabilities, overlap with PARD, Senior Center
  5. I would need to make sure the outside entity is working with our mission and not trying to self-promote
  6. May need a memorandum of understanding.
  7. talk to library board of trustees
  • Space and scheduling matters
  1. make sure the space is available
  2. I would need to make sure it works with our schedule and budget
  3. Identify time during which the activity could be offered. Havelock library has not community rooms, so activities have to be offered in the main library space.
  4. Book off a general study area for programs.
  5. scheduling
  • Staffing and funding matters
  1. Hire more staff, increase funding
  2. Know if there’s a fee
  3. Provide some equipment and materials to use in the program.
  4. Time to research outside entities. It would be really helpful if there were a list of ideas that people have used, that
  • Marketing issues
  1. we create the marketing
  2. Additional advertising.
  3. Advertise

14) How soon, ideally, would you like to offer a physical activity program for older adults?

Answered by 25

15) Please record here any additional thoughts you wish to share about physical activity programming for older adults at your library.

Answered by 32

Additional comments from respondents

Responses were grouped into the following categories:

  • Stories of community impact
  1. Although I promote classes for all ages, I’ve noticed that my regulars are older adults. Some supplement their other exercise classes with ours (one even remarked last week how grateful she is for our classes because she hasn’t been able to get to her other classes due to all of the bad winter weather!), while others use our classes exclusively
  2. Geri-Fit has been very successful for us.
  3. I had initially talked to the personal trainer through the local hospital about the Geri-Fit program, and she thought it was wonderful and offered to help me promote it. Then, out of the blue, I received a phone call from a doctor at our local clinic. One of his patients had signed up for our Geri-Fit study and class and told him about it. He wants me to come and tell all of the clinic providers about the Geri-Fit program next month so they can promote it to all of their older patients! We are absolutely thrilled about this, however, we do have limited space at the library, and so can only have about 15-16 people in each Geri-Fit class. So we’re going to have to figure out how to accomodate everyone without having multiple classes each day!
  4. It is very important to offer these classes! My older adults LOVE all of the offerings we have and would love more!
  5. It’s been very successful. People form friendships, get more comfortable with each other as the class goes on, are more vocal about their needs and what makes them feel better or worse, and the attendance started slow, but word spreads in older communities and it’s been very positive throughout.
  6. Keep records for annual reports to board and city council.
  7. Our community really appreciates that they we have twice weekly, free chair yoga classes. There is no sign up so they can come when it suits them. It is lead by a staff member who is a Yoga teacher.
  8. Our library has had an amazing amount of success with this type of programming and it has introduced numerous new people to the library
  9. These have been wonderful, highly attended programs.
  10. This has been one of our most successful ventures in programming, and it is extremely rewarding.
  11. We also run weekly meditation classes that are popular with older adults and will soon be offering a weekly tai chi class that I anticipate being very popular.
  12. We started Tai Chi as a way to make use of our Storybook Park, a green space owned by the library. It’s got a following and we are happy to have started it!
  13. We started with one session per week and it was so popular that we added a second session. That became so popular that we added a third session. They would likely add a fourth, but we don’t have the time available in our one meeting room space. The classes are packed as full as we can handle.
  • Looking for ideas and solutions to problems
  1. I am interested in receiving ideas appropriate for public library programming. Love to see and hear what other small libraries are doing in this area.
  2. I am still searching for a consistent program for the 4th Monday of each month, and I would like to have something (DVD, online) to offer for the occasional 5th Monday.
  3. I wish we had more space availability and more potential free/low-cost partners
  4. I would like to offer more physical activity programming for older adults but we have limited space.
  5. It would be helpful to find local organizations (such as Silver Sneakers…). We don’t know many organizations that are geared to older adults.
  6. Library’s focus now goes to children and young adults. Few older adult physical. activities are offered.
  7. Our indoor space is not conducive to physical activity programming, however outside space and community space may be available.
  8. Our library system (20 branch large metropolitan area) is not allowed to offer fitness or other exercise-based programming by order of the senior administration. It is seen as outside our mission. The librarians in the branches who work with the public on a daily basis would love to be able to provide these programs and the patrons frequently request them.
  9. This would be an ideal program to pair with our current baby/toddler program.
  10. We have a small space, no flat outdoor space, and most of our seniors stay home during the winter or go to warmer climates. Our library is already overfull with summer programs and activities. There would be obstacles to this that would need to be overcome.
  11. Who goes to the library for physical activity when there’s PARD’s community center? We did do some at our summer reading program whose theme was physical fitness, but how do we tie it in or even justify on a regular basis in our setting?
  • Needs to be tied to community needs and contexts
  1. Base it on community interest. We tried a walking program for a year but it did  not succeed.  Being rural people just go out and walk on their own.
  2. Be aware of other offerings in your immediate geographic area and don’t step on other organizations’ toes.
  3. Have a staff, professional or paraprofessional, that has both experience in working with elders and connections within the community working on the program. Staff that have an interest in working with this age group and have a connection tend to be more successful and generate more interest within the community.
  4. It is important to look at other organizations in the community that may offer similar services, and to be clear whether exercise programs are within the library’s mandate. They are obviously beneficial , but may not be a priority for resource allocation.
  5. Our challenge in implementing any physical activity programming is that we are part of a municipal government and we have a parks and recreation department and we don’t want to seem to be stealing their people.
  • Needs to attend to adaptability and safety matters
  1. Anyone offering a physical activity program always get them to sign a waiver of liability. Have activities that can can be done for all levels, such as yoga.  Yoga can be done while sitting in a chair.
  2. Be aware of liabilities. Get waivers from participants.  Make sure instructor understands limitations of participants.  Young instructors can’t talk down to the classes.  Make sure the participants are respected.
  3. exercisers sign waivers

LET’S TALK