$500,000 Federal Grant for Expansion of Creative Aging Programs in 22 Library Systems Across 12 States


Westchester County, NY — Lifetime Arts, Inc. and Westchester Library System (WLS) announced today their receipt of a $500,000 National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. Creative Aging in America’s Libraries extends the work of Creative Aging in New York State Public Libraries, which was funded with a $450,000 IMLS National Leadership grant in 2011. This work builds on the past five years of Lifetime Arts’ work with public library systems and teaching artists to improve the lives of older adults through arts instruction.

Designed to improve, expand and sustain creative aging programs in public libraries AND position libraries as community cornerstones for positive aging, the Creative Aging in America’s Libraries project will serve up to 150 librarians in 22 library systems across 12 states who will form the inaugural cohort of Lifetime Arts Affiliates. Major project partners include AARP Foundation and Selfhelp Community Services.

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A recent Lifetime Arts creative aging program at Grove Hall branch of the Boston Public Library

Increasingly recognized as an important contributor to positive aging efforts, the field of creative aging focuses on the beneficial and powerful role of participatory arts education in enhancing the quality of life for older adults. American librarians have lacked arts-based program models, exposure to new knowledge on aging, and the resources required to offer sustainable, interactive programs. Now, with Lifetime Arts’ capacity-building initiative, they will have access to expert technical assistance and peer support necessary to create meaningful programming for the growing and increasingly diverse aging American population.

Creative Aging in America’s Libraries will provide a practical, replicable and sustainable approach for transforming older adult library services to align with new knowledge, societal priorities and collaborative practice. As members of the Lifetime Arts Affiliate Network, librarians will participate in in-depth training, receive ongoing technical assistance, participate in a national peer network and receive support to implement programs in their communities.

The first cohort of Affiliates will include public libraries in: Chandler, Phoenix and Tempe, AZ; Sacramento and San Diego, CA; Boulder and Pikes Peak, CO; Hartford and New Haven, CT; Miami-Dade, FL; Portland, ME; Boston and Somerville, MA; Brooklyn, Westchester and Queens in NY; Cuyahoga and Dayton-Metro, OH; Beaverton City, Cedar Mill and North Plains, OR; Allegheny County and Philadelphia, PA; and Seattle, WA.

Acknowledging the award, Lifetime Arts CEO and co-founder Maura O’Malley said,

“This significant grant from IMLS will help catalyze a major shift in how public libraries across the country respond to the needs and interests of older patrons. Along with our national partners, library colleagues and collaborating artists, we are eager to get to work and begin the institutionalization of creative aging programs across the country.”

Westchester Library System Executive Director Terry Kirchner added,

“Westchester Library System is so pleased to continue to champion creative aging in public libraries. Continued support from IMLS and this national expansion of the Lifetime Arts model is an important milestone for all of us who are concerned with the role of America’s libraries as centers for positive aging.”

About Westchester Library System

The Westchester Library System (WLS) includes 38 member public libraries located throughout the County and is one of New York State’s 23 public library systems. The mission of the Westchester Library System is to ensure that all residents have seamless access to excellent library service throughout Westchester County. For more information, please visit http://www.westchesterlibraries.org.

About Lifetime Arts

Founded in 2008, Lifetime Arts, Inc. is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization working nationally to promote the creation, expansion and sustainability of professionally conducted arts programs for older adults. Lifetime Arts has gained national recognition as a major contributor to the development of creative aging policies, best practices, and information services, artists training resources, technical assistance, and advocacy.

For more information about Lifetime Arts visit www.lifetimearts.org, call (914) 355-2304, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Visit www.creativeagingtoolkit.org to learn how to plan, implement, evaluate and sustain creative aging programs in a public library setting.


Lifetime Arts Receives 2013 National Library Week Award from WLS

L to r: Cathy Draper, WLS Board Member; Ed Friedman; Maura O'Malley; Dave Danelson, WLS Board President.

L to r: Cathy Draper, WLS Board Member; Ed Friedman; Maura O’Malley; Dave Danelson, WLS Board President.

On April 18, Lifetime Arts co-founders Maura O’Malley and Ed Friedman received the 2013 National Library Week Recognition Award from the Westchester Library System (WLS) for their outstanding contribution to public libraries.


L to r: Ed Friedman and Maura O’Malley

The award ceremony was part of the 22nd Annual Book and Author Luncheon held at the CV Rich Mansion in White Plains, NY.

The award was presented by WLS Board Member Cathy Draper and Board President Dave Danelson, who lauded Lifetime Arts for its work with Westchester libraries as well as with libraries around the country.

In accepting the award, the pair expressed their gratitude to the librarians and teaching artists who made the commitment to lifelong learning through the arts for people of all ages.

L to r: Ed Friedman, Maura O'Malley, George Oros, Chief-of-Staff for Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

L to r: Ed Friedman, Maura O’Malley, George Oros, Chief-of-Staff for Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

Following the presentation Maura and Ed received a proclamation issued by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino who cited Lifetime Arts for “their commitment to libraries, and their place in our communities for learning and connection, and for providing meaningful artmaking programming for older adults in libraries.”

Lifetime Arts team members (l to r): Nathan Majoros, Maura O'Malley, Ed Friedman, Ryann Schermer.

Lifetime Arts team members (l to r): Nathan Majoros, Maura O’Malley, Ed Friedman, Ryann Schermer.

ALA’s Programming Librarian Blog Highlights Creative Aging

Programming Librarian

Programming Librarian, an online publication of the American Library Association’s Public Programs Office (ALA-PPO), has published a series of 6 blog posts (to date) written by librarians and library directors who have implemented creative aging programs in public libraries over the past year. These programs were funded with grants from Lifetime Arts’ Creative Aging in Libraries Project.

The librarians and directors tell their tales in a vivid, frank manner that conveys all that is involved in coordinating this type of program. Read on!

briarcliff-two-womanApril 18, 2013: Briarcliff Manor Public Library

Melinda Greenblatt, Director at Briarcliff Manor Public Library in Westchester County, NY, wrote about using creative aging programs as an opportunity “to find ways to increase attendance at our adult programs and make our library more visible to the community at large.”

Teaming with the teaching artist she hired, Kim McCormack, Greenblatt conducted an interest survey, figured out space issues, executed a recruitment campaign, and navigated special needs of two nonagenerians who were interested in participating as well as disruptions and complications due to Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.

Despite having been faced with some challenges, the first program at Briarcliff was a success and prompted Greenblatt and McCormack to apply for a second grant which they were awarded. Read the full story >>

bpl-creative-agingApril 11, 2013: Bay Ridge Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (Urban)

The Bay Ridge Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, which had run a successful visual arts program (work from this program pictured at left) for older adults in 2012, also received funding for a performing arts workshop in 2013.

Of the experience this time around, Xiaoyan Zhou, Neighborhood Library Supervisor, wrote:

The eight-week “World of Music” workshop aims to engage participants through singing to improve their vocal skills, and to gain an understanding of the similarities and differences in music across cultural boundaries. Right now, we have finished half of the curriculum, and the feedback from the students is phenomenal. Many stated that the participation has not only expanded their musical horizons, but has also made them feel more confident.

Read the full story >>

creative-aging-mid-manhattanApril 4, 2013: Mid-Manhattan Library

Before Jessica Cline, Senior Librarian, Art and Picture Collections, at Mid-Manhattan Library, New York Public Library, applied for a Creative Aging in Libraries grant from Lifetime Arts, she reflected on what she knew about her patrons, their interest in past literary arts programs, and selected a teaching artist, Hermine Meinhard, in whom Cline had confidence based on her prior success leading workshops there.

When I reached out to [Meinhard] about the project, she asked what I felt were her strong points of instruction that would be suitable for this workshop, and what resources the library had to support writing poetry. Both of these factors confirmed that she was committed to finding the best way to teach a poetry workshop to older adults in the library setting. Once advertised, the workshop designed for twelve participants filled quickly with individuals of diverse backgrounds and levels of exposure to writing and reading poetry.

Read more about how Meinhard and Cline’s teamwork has led to a successful program and about the plans for a culminating event on May 7, which will take the form of a poetry reading. Read full story >>

Rouses Point (N.Y.) Dodge Memorial Library director Donna Boumil with artist Connie Cassevaugh.

(l to r:) Boumil and Cassevaugh

November 29, 2012: Rouses Point Dodge Memorial Library (Rural)

Rouses Point Dodge Memorial Library Director Donna J. Boumil wrote about the fact that participants overcame a real learning curve as they progressed through the visual arts program that she offered with teaching artist, Connie Cassevaugh.

Despite the fact that some of the participants had initially felt intimidated by the medium,

Throughout the workshop the student artists gained confidence, motivation, and great enthusiasm toward this art medium. There was a tremendous amount of conversation and encouragement from the student artists and teaching artist. The student artists could not wait to show me their progress and product at the end of each class. There were a few of the student artists who researched this art medium through the internet and books to further educate themselves.

According to Boumil, some “nerves” returned as the culminating event approached. Read the full story to learn how things turned out.

creative-aging-wells-rhinoNovember 2, 2012: Wells Memorial Library

Karen Rappaport, Director of Wells Memorial Library, published an engaging, narrative account of the Observational Drawing class offered at her library by teaching artist, Grace Potthast.

Rappaport’s descriptive prose transports you right into the classroom:

On an autumn morning in the Adirondacks, participants gathered for the third session of a Creative Aging drawing class, chatting and surveying a large drawing hanging in nonfiction. Teaching artist Grace Potthast assembled the class. “Everyone have a drawing board? Paper is over by the supplies, and the cutting board is on the children’s table.” The art students collected their supplies, and Grace gave instructions for a two-minute, timed drawing of the seashells placed on tables around the library. “Keep your pencil on the paper, don’t look at your drawing. It’s not about the drawing. This is to bring your right brain to the forefront.” She mentioned Leonardo da Vinci’s advice that you should look closely at the undulations of line when you’re drawing an object to make it look real. She spoke about line, shape, and proportion, and people focused on the seashells in front of them for two minutes of drawing.

The patrons had fun, learned a lot, found that the sessions flew by, and had their work exhibited at the library in early January 2013. Read full story>>