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An overlooked resource? Public libraries’ work with older people – an introduction

John Vincent (Networker, based at The Network, Devon, UK)

Working with Older People

ISSN: 1366-3666

Article publication date: 2 December 2014




The purpose of this paper is to highlight work with older people being undertaken by public libraries.


The paper draws on responses from libraries working with older people, outlining their approaches, and also on the report, “Library services for older people – good practice guide”.


There is a large and varied programme of work being delivered by public libraries and their partner organisations. However, much of it is “under the radar”, so, when spending cuts are made, the knock-on effects are often not recognised.

Practical implications

Highlights examples of work that other library services could replicate. Also highlights work that potential partner organisations may not know about, and therefore can use this paper as a “way in” to libraries. Stresses the importance of recognising the wide range of people under the umbrella term, “older people”.

Social implications

This paper aims to draw attention to a key area of work which may not be well known outside libraries themselves, with the potential to bring other partners and funders on board.


The paper draws together examples of different initiatives developed by public libraries, all of which have an enormous impact on the older people (and their families) involved.



As always, the author is very grateful to all those contacts who have shared information and case studies with the author for this paper. These include: Carol Boswarthack (City of London Libraries); Colin Bray (Devon Libraries); Rhonda Brooks (Vision-Redbridge Culture and Leisure); Dianne Hird (Kirklees Libraries and Information Centres); Janet Holden (Norfolk Library and Information Service); Richard L Jones (City of London Libraries); Jackie Manners (West Sussex Libraries); Jennie Mooney (North East Lincolnshire Libraries); Lesley Munro (Voluntary Health Scotland); Ruth Prosser (Cumbria Libraries); Julie Russell (Libraries Northern Ireland); Julie Walker (Kirklees Libraries and Information Centres); and Simon Wallace (Southend Borough Libraries).


Vincent, J. (2014), "An overlooked resource? Public libraries’ work with older people – an introduction", Working with Older People, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 214-222.



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