June 28, 2007

Libraries, Older Adults & Technology

I gave a speech last Friday at the “Libraries, Older Adults & Technology” pre-conference for the American Library Association meeting in DC. I talked about our general demographic data, which shows that most adults ages 70+ are offline, but also identified two typology groups who might be good targets for information specialists who believe the internet is a good thing for older people to know about.

One of my favorite speakers that day was Carol Bean, who works with older adults in Florida. She demonstrated how difficult it is to learn something new when there are all kinds of visual & aural distractions, recreating what it is like when you are an older adult.

Another presenter, Danny Wallace, mentioned that chronological age matters less to some people than the age they feel or, even more to the point when it comes to technology, the age they “do.” So although someone may state their age as 65, they may feel 55 and “do” 45. I hope our typology gets us part of the way along that path by showing that there are Omnivores over the age of 50, but I’d be interested in other research to support this concept.