Comparing Australian and Canadian public library systems: A qualitative investigation of older adult public library programming and services
Due to similarities in population size and dispersion, economic systems, and cultural history, lessons learned in Australian public libraries may be applicable in Canada, and vise versa. This project responded to the questions; 1) What programs do Australian public libraries provide for older adults? 2) How are these programs developed, funded, sustained, and evaluated? 3) What challenges do Australian public librarians face when offering programs to older adults? And 4) How does older adult library programming in Australia and Canada differ? What can be learned from these differences? These questions were answered via an environmental scan of existing library programs for older adults and a thematic analysis of in-depth interviews with public library staff interested in this field in both Australia and Canada. This project reveals how public libraries in both countries are similar in regard to how they serve and program for older adults. Public library staff in both countries use community engagement, strategic partnerships, and experimentation to craft programs and services that target the social and informational wants older adults. There may be room for Australian and Canadian libraries to learn from one another in how they create spaces that are inclusive of all community members regardless of age yet sensitive to the distinct conditions common among older adults, such as retirement, care-giving roles, and potentially dementia.