Lifelong Learning & the Local Public Library

ENTREPRENEURIAL PREPARATION

Lifelong Learning everyday is the key to pursuing an active, creative and productive life.  In preparation for becoming a senior entrepreneur and for successful aging it is very important to consider and study active brain activities.  Richard Restak, a neurologist said that, “aging can be thought of as the result throughout the body of a general wear-and-tear process.”

In all body organs except the brain, increased activity leads to more wear and tear and accelerated degeneration.  In the brain the principle of operation is unique.  Activation of nerve cells doesn’t lead to a general degeneration of function but, instead, to the maintenance of neurons during normal aging.

This is really quite an extraordinary situation if you think about it: the brain in contrast to every other organ in the body, has the potential to improve with use and to keep the edge into the ninth decade and beyond

BAN ‘OLD’ STUDENTS, EH?

In a satire piece written recently by a 30-something, fourth-year University of Alberta molecular biology student wrote in his student newspaper, the Gateway that “old people don’t belong at the U of A.” One of the reasons mentioned for this apparent social exclusion was that mature students ask “too many” questions and that these students often mention “what used to be”.

I understand that mature students have different behaviors and different expectations, but HOW can we create some structures that are more senior-friendly and show more respect for seniors?

CAN PUBLIC LIBRARIES BE THE ANSWER?

I was very surprised to learn that Montreal and Vancouver tied for top spot in a global ranking of the world’s best public libraries, according to a recent study published by the university of Dusseldorf. The name of the study is, Public Libraries in the knowledge Society.  The key for Montreal and Vancouver was offerings such as the libraries digital resources and use of social media.

BOOMERS CLOSING THE TECH GAP

Not too long ago digital resources and the use of social media wasn’t important because only about 1/3 or less of all seniors were computer literate.  Recently, telephone surveys with more than 6,000 Canadians conducted on behalf of the Media Technology Monitor were used to compare technology trends among members of Gen Y defined as 24 to 33-year-old consumers, Gen Z (aged 18-23) and the 47-to-67 boomer demographic.

“While (boomers) have not grown up with publicly available Internet and wireless technologies, they have become avid users of these offerings,” states the report.  Younger people led in wireless technologies eg. early adoption of smartphones and streaming web video.

A significant fact is that the younger boomers in the survey between 47 and 57 were most likely to embrace tablets.  About 36 per cent of the consumers in the cohort said they owned a tablet, which is more than Gen Y (34 per cent) and Gen Z (28 per cent) respondents.

DIGITAL LITERACY @THE LIBRARY

The Stanley A. Milner Library in my own hometown aims to provide an engaged learning experience in the heart of Edmonton, Alberta Canada.

In my own research I have found that seniors have different expectations in the fields of Lifelong Learning and Entrepreneurship.  What better way there is to engage more seniors than having them come to their own local public library.  in fact, Peter Schoenberg, Edmonton Public Library Manager of digital literacy initiatives and web services said, “Rather than borrowing a book and returning it three weeks later you LEARN something, it’s creating a space for hands-on learning,” said Peter Schoenberg.

The SPACE and it’s equipment are designed to allow the community a flexible area to pursue their creative outlets or just sit back and play video games with friends.  Novices can experiment with the space’s hard-and software and avoid the startup cost of a new creative pursuit.  I think that this is a perfect environment for seniors that already have surplus time but now need some empowerment to pursue new and different activities in their pre-retirement or retirement life. 

THE CALL FOR ACTION

It’s my belief that we need to graduate from the traditional seniors’ centers to some new concepts in order to get more seniors to become more creative and productive.  My personal vision is to create community facilities that include wellness/recreation centers (including fitness centers c/w personal trainers), lifelong learning centers c/w program rooms that have senior-friendly hands-on learning.  The lifelong learning centers could start with the local public library as the HUB which through participation there could lead the senior in the direction of their own skills, interests, knowledge and resources.  Also, somewhere in those new facilities we also need space for a deli, coffee and Wi-Fi access for laptops, tablets, e Readers and any ‘other’ future digital products & services.

I think it’s also important to assess the ‘medical condition’ of the senior to ensure they are not trying to do more than they should for the present shape that they are in.  I believe that this new concept of learning would encourage seniors to be more active, creative, productive and prosperous in their second or third acts of their own life cycle.  Also, it would be a more holistic approach for the well being of every senior living well and being fully engaged in their own communities.

FEEDBACK

If anybody has some ideas about how we can create more senior-friendly lifelong learning facilities, please advise below?

SEASON’S GREETINGS

Happy New Year, to everyone reading this Blog article!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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