Lifetime Arts, the Westchester Library System (WLS) and the American Library Association announced today their receipt of a $450,000 National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. This two-year project, Creative Aging in New York State Public Libraries: a Regional Model with National Applicability, builds on Lifetime Arts’ work with public library systems and teaching artists over the last three years.
This national initiative will serve up to 1,000 older adults through instructional arts programs in up to 60 libraries in four demographically diverse public library systems: Westchester Library System, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Clinton Essex Franklin Library System in upstate New York. In addition to administering the two year project, Lifetime Arts will provide extensive technical assistance and professional development for participating librarians and artists, building their capacity to respond to the growing demand for meaningful programming for an aging population. Longer term, the project will promote program sustainability through the publication of The Creative Aging Tool Kit for Public Libraries, an online implementation guide. This free tool kit, to be disseminated nationally by the American Library Association’s Public Programs Office, will provide practical guidance on program implementation, partnership development, funding and sustaining strategies libraries can use to collaborate with artists.
Acknowledging the award, Lifetime Arts CEO and co-founder Maura O’Malley said, “What’s most inspiring about this work is witnessing the individual transformations that take place in the library workshops as older adult participants discover and rediscover creative abilities and make new friends. Also, part of our role is to help librarians and artists bring their complementary strengths to designing and implementing arts programs for older adults, helping provide their communities with a valuable new resource to promote positive aging.” Westchester Library System Executive Director Terry Kirchner added, “Libraries are a natural partner for creative aging programs; they are ‘age-neutral’ community and cultural centers, reaching people of all education and economic levels. We look forward to building on the work we’ve done with Lifetime Arts and fueling the national discussion of how public libraries can enrich the lives of older adults.”