Services for Older Adults

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Success Stories

Tips for Providing Quality Services for Older Adults

Basic Health Information Literacy for Seniors As part of our Bridge to Health Information Literacy for Denver project, funded by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, the Denver Public Library purchased ten large size laptops and Pelican carrying cases that allow us to go to locations in the community where people already gather. In the past we have had very limited success with getting people of any age to come to classes on finding health information. This time we chose to go to them and to present the classes in a very different way.

In eHealth Literacy: Essential Skills for Consumer Health in a Networked World Norman and Skinner make the point that people need skills in six different literacies if they are to benefit from the great wealth of quality online health information. We chose to offer classes in basic computer skills, and to introduce [1] and the need to evaluate information in every one of our classes. We also provided all of our participants with well illustrated handouts for practice, as well as contact information for our public library and for medical libraries in our area that are happy to help members of the general public with their health information needs.

We had excellent attendance at our classes, whether for Basic Mouse & Internet, Basic eMail or Search the Internet skills. We went to three facilities, but by far the most successful was a large residential community for active seniors. They were able to handle all the promotion and registration needs, and people signed up eagerly. We only had two out of 30 who registered and then failed to attend, and participants began arriving 15-20 minutes before the class began! Even the most basic learners were able to focus on the fun basic tasks we gave them, and within an hour and a half, genuine learning had taken place, and we had all enjoyed our time together.

There is great eagerness to learn these basic computer skills and we made sure that everyone achieved a good measure of success. This required about 2:1 or 3:1 staffing, so our technology center volunteers were a huge part in our success. Having some roller ball mice and the large size of our wifi-enabled laptops were critical for many.

Norman CD, Skinner HA eHealth Literacy: Essential Skills for Consumer Health in a Networked World J Med Internet Res 2006;8(2):e9 URL: doi: 10.2196/jmir.8.2.e9 PMID: 16867972


  • S.Fox & M. Madden (2006). Generations Online. Washington, DC: Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Blogs/Websites to Watch

Specific Blog Posts/Articles to Check Out

Library 2.0 Services to Older Adults - Best Practices