The Transforming Life After 50 (TLA50) initiative, undertaken by the California State Library, was designed to help libraries better serve and engage mid-life adults by positioning libraries as cornerstone institutions for productive aging. Research had shown that library services for "seniors" did not match the interests or characteristics of current adults, ages 50+ nor did these services reflect how aging is changing.
This was confirmed by a Library Field Survey (pdf) administered by the California State Library in 2007. Of the 230 library respondents, 65% said mid-life adults were “important” to their library but only 6% had specific programs or plans in place for them. Based on these findings and a desire to help libraries better support this growing population of older adults, the TLA50 initiative was launched.
The initiative began as a 3-day TLA50 training institute (pdf) designed to help libraries envision an alternative to the predominant deficit-based model of aging. Leaders in the fields of health, education, social science, finance, spirituality and aging offered new strategies for working with active, older adults. Eighty-eight participants (pdf), from 44 California libraries, attended the institute and 24 libraries went on to complete community assessments and be awarded LSTA grants to address the identified opportunities or needs of the older adults in their communities.
Interest in TLA50 spread beyond California, and an interstate partnership then led to the creation of the IMLS Western Regional Fellowship – a year long continuing education opportunity that brought the TLA50 training institute to yet more library staff wishing to further advance their skills related to improving services to and community engagement with mid-life adults.
From these combined efforts, 36 libraries (to date) in California have been award LSTA grants to put their learning into practice. Projects ranged from planning grants, to new community collaborations, to innovative volunteer opportunities, and inspiring new program models!
All the training presentations, tools and program models from this TLA50 initiative – including the promising practices created by the funded libraries and the IMLS Fellowship courses as well as a searchable resource database – are available on this web site, with new resources continually being added. We hope this site can serve as a hub of information, ideas and collegial support for anyone interested in connecting with mid-life adults in new and meaningful ways.