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ID 113873
Title Alternative
Features and Implications of Library Services to Persons Living with Dementia in the United States : A Case Study of Outreach Programs given by a Public Library District in Illinois and lessons for Japan.
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Departmental Bulletin Paper
Description Alternative
This paper intends to clarify features and implications of libraries’ educational programs for those living with dementia, focusing upon outreach programs held at local health care facilities provided by a public library district in Illinois, US, utilizing its library resources. A short site visit was conducted by the author in August 2018, involving participatory observations of the programs, informal conversations with those who have developed and conducted these programs, as well as with volunteers, and brief paper analysis in order to give an overview of the program. Since the US is expected to face a sharp increase in the number of elderly people over the next few decades, there have been earnest activities, discussions and practical schemes in various fields to cope with this. Above all, the issue of dementia is considered as one of the most difficult to tackle, given its tremendous social cost and negative impact on patients and caregivers. As a familiar educational institution, public libraries have been playing a vital role in approaching those who are living with dementia, by developing meaningful programs with careful selection of library resources and putting them into practice effectively by various means across the US. As a result, several positive effects on both patients and caregivers have been reported, such as increased cognitive and social interaction shown by patients, improved relationships between individuals with dementia and their caregivers, and less of the stigma associated with dementia. It is being proved that libraries have much potential to improve the quality life of those who tend to be isolated from the local community. From an educational viewpoint, some findings suggest ideas for future work, including: more reflection on content and methodology to improve the programs, particularly by hearing about feedback on the programs from those living with dementia; more deliberations on the special knowledge and skills required to conduct these types of program; the need to define the meaning of learning and/or meaning of library materials for those with dementia in participating in programs of this kind; the necessity for research on these themes from several different academic fields and from a long-term viewpoint; and more serious consideration of what it means for a library to be engaged in this kind of service, and its distinctive role in light of the service’s original nature, etc. Compared to America’s, Japan’s public libraries have already been encountering a number of problems caused by those with dementia using the libraries, due to the high proportion of older adults in society across the country. There has therefore been a pressing need for Japanese librarians to acquire special knowledge and skills to understand and communicate with those with dementia appropriately. It would be hard for Japanese librarians to find the time to focus on programming, due to lack of human resources, time constraints, and the need to deal with many other elderly users with unspecified needs. However, it is still possible to learn some lessons from American librarians, such as their devotion, their well-thought-out, flexible and careful selection of useful library resources for those with dementia and caregivers, and the effective way in which these programs are conducted, which includes inviting volunteers to help run the programs, etc. It is suggested that Japanese libraries should continue to investigate how to become dementia-friendly at a deeper level by learning from other advanced countries in this field, with a view to including a greater diversity of people in society.
Journal Title
Journal of University Extension
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Center for University Extension