KCLS Pulls Out All the Stops for Older Adults

Programs, Resources and Support Abound for Growing Demographic

Linda Rothrock had an idea for a novel, one so insistent that she wrote down her developing thoughts for 20 years.

One day, she saw a promotion for a KCLS writing class, asking: “Do you have a manuscript at the bottom of your desk drawer?”

“I do!” she recalls thinking. Newly motivated, she took the North Bend Library class and began working with the teacher, Sheri Kennedy. Kennedy, a local author, became Rothrock’s mentor, guiding her along the path to publication.

Last year, at age 75, and despite battling cancer, Rothrock fulfilled her dream of becoming a published author with a book, Strangers to a Legacy.

“It happened!” she said. “I wanted to challenge myself, and am truly proud. But I could not have done it without KCLS, that class and Sheri.”

Rothrock is one of thousands of older adults who have taken advantage of Library System programs, classes, services and resources to find inspiration, learn new skills and engage with others.

She is part of a growing group. More than 35% of KCLS cardholders are age 50 and older, including grandparents and caregivers who visit libraries with their families. That number has grown; 28% of cardholders were over 50 in 2015.

With the demographic increase has come expanded library offerings, with a lineup of special programs this fall. An online author series, Pioneers in Aging, includes discussions from experts on how to age and retire healthfully. A partnership with KCLS, Baby Boomer Boot Camp, will be held on October 9. It features a half-day of inspiring presentations, including senior living planning, the importance of sleep and nutrition, and how to avoid scams.

In November, KCLS will host a class on Social Security and a Veterans Town Hall.

Throughout the year, KCLS addresses the needs and interests of older adults with a wide range of in-person and online programs, partnering with AARP, King County Housing Authority, SilverKite Community Arts, Gentle Tech Help and other organizations. KCLS has provided classes on retirement and estate planning, Medicare, computers, caregiving support, genealogy, cooking and arts. The Library System hosts book groups, senior social hours and other activities, including popular volunteer opportunities such as Friends of the Library. In addition, he KCLS Foundation has provided funding to support many older adult services.

Rothrock also is grateful to KCLS outreach services specialist Carrie H. and Mobile Services for delivering books to senior living facilities.

“We absolutely love Mobile Services,” she said. “We have a lot of readers and when new residents arrive, we tell them to get a library card. It’s a wonderful service.”

Nancy H. credits KCLS for its outreach, commitment to older adults and openness to new ideas. She recalls being bored and lonely after her own early retirement 13 years ago, inspiring her to design a new program, Aging Well Learning Community. The KCLS partnership is still going strong, connecting older adults with books, films, music, poetry–and each other.

Wendy P., KCLS’ Adult Services Coordinator, said that the pandemic highlighted the importance of staying connected to older adults, many of whom were socially isolated. A website, kcls.org/older-adults, alerts patrons of the many opportunities available.

“Our population in King County continues to age, and the library is not just for kids,” she said. “Adults and older adults deserve support throughout their lifespans. KCLS is committed to providing opportunities for recreation, socialization, digital literacy and lifelong learning of all types.”