Name: David J. Kelsey
Title: Outreach Services Librarian
Education: Master of Library and Information Studies, University of Rhode Island
About the St. Charles Public Library and the Outreach Services Department:
The St. Charles Public Library is located in St. Charles, Illinois, which is 35 miles west of the city of Chicago. The Library serves a population of 55,000 residents. The Outreach Services Department of the St. Charles Public Library (consisting of David Kelsey, Dana Hintz, Lynda Spraner, and Christine Steck) provides library materials, programming, and engagement activities to nine senior facilities, three home care facilities, and fifteen homebound patrons a month. Outreach Services presents weekly, biweekly, and monthly programming at seven senior facilities, presenting over 25 programs a month that engage over 250 seniors. The Outreach team also facilitates fifteen community book and magazine exchanges including at our local hospital, homeless shelter, judicial center, Salvation Army, and clinics that provide free counseling, medical, and dental services to individuals living below the poverty line.
Why is health literacy important in your community?
Alzheimer’s disease has personally affected millions of Americans and their families. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that more than five million Americans currently live with Alzheimer’s disease and that this number could boom as high as sixteen million in 2050. Everyone has been touched by Alzheimer’s disease – whether having served as a caretaker, provided monetary support, or offered comfort and guidance to those in need. As outreach professionals, we meet people living with dementia each and every day. Our goal is to bring information, resources, materials, and programming to our senior population including those living with dementia and memory loss. We bring the library out to the senior community – to educate, to inspire memories, to provide engagement activities, and to make a difference in those we serve.
What’s the impact that you hope to make in your community?
Through our programming and engagement activities, I hope that our Outreach Services Department can make a positive and meaningful difference in the lives of our seniors. I hope that we can make a lasting impact in the community and those we serve. My belief is that Outreach is about impact. You might not realize you have reached an individual living with memory loss, but you have. They might not engage, but you are definitely reaching them.
What is your favorite health-related program or outreach that you’ve done?
The St. Charles Public Library developed the “Attic” Memory Wagon which features vintage and antique items. These items inspire memories, engage patrons, and invigorate the senses. We feature new “Attic” programs every month revolving around three themes: fashion, household appliances and products, and travel in the USA. Recent “Attic” programs include Howard Johnson’s, Holiday Inn, Pan American Airlines, depression glassware, Fiesta pottery, Route 66, Texaco and Sinclair Oil, 1950’s fashion and jewelry trends, and national parks of the United States. We purchase items from antique and thrift stores, the flea market, and online at Etsy.
We developed informational handouts to accompany the programs that feature facts, trivia, and photographs. Favorite patron comments during “Attic” programs include, “This takes me to way back when,” “These bring back great memories,” and, “I used to wear something just like that.” A fond memory was when three ladies modeled a blue pillbox hat, a style made famous by First Lady Jackie Kenney in the 1960’s. We present “Attic” programs at six facilities each month which engage ninety seniors.
David and Lynda will be presenting about their outreach services in a webinar on Friday, April 27th, Grab and Go: Expanding and Strengthening Senior Programming