Learning to Adult at the Library
Many people grow up at the library. They joined in on storytimes and crafts as a child, spent their pre-teen years browsing books, and dedicated lots of study and social hours to the library as they got older. When it comes time to be adults, libraries are also there to teach important life skills that help people transition to being independent.
Libraries have a wide range of programming on their calendars. It is no surprise that adulting 101 is a common event especially since these classes address many skills that are not taught in a classroom setting. These events cover topics from finance, cooking, or internet etiquette to sewing, emergency preparedness, and even how to tie a tie.
Many young adults miss out on learning this knowledge for a variety of reasons. Many of the topics that these events address are not always consciously taught. This can lead them to struggles when they transition from living dependently to living on their own. The results are poor financial choices, inability to navigate job searches, or unhealthy diets.
These programs can target patrons when they are young. At California State Library, an Adult 101: Life Skills Bootcamp is offered to teens between the ages of 13 and 18. This program was funded by the LSTA grant and is a program series made to help teens learn about adulthood and the workforce. The library hopes to provide them skills to help them be successful in a variety of environments. This project was originally created with 8 modules in mind: Easy Etiquette, Healthy Living (fitness and nutrition), Social Media and Cyber Smarts, Personal Safety 411, Managing Your Time, and Workplace Know-how. It has since expanded to include topics covering decision making, home repairs, and many more. With the help of the grant, they were able to offer this across 15 libraries across the county, meaning many teenagers were being exposed to these important skills and topics at an early age and in a safe environment. The presentation slides and lecture notes are also available online for anyone to reference. Teens that participated in the program have notes handy to look over any information they received.
Capturing the Elusive Demographic
Library patrons that fall between the ages of 20 to 40 are also a group that libraries are hoping to get involved with their adulting 101 programs. While this range of people have different experiences being an adult, many have inconsistent skills when it comes to cleaning, finances, and technology.
The Denver Public Library has sewing classes on their schedule and encourages the public to bring projects that they may be struggling with. These hands-on classes cover basic stitches, buttons, and incorporate fun activities like potlucks, exchanges, or festive themes.
The Boise Public Library adds a creative aspect to their adulting programs through an exciting attendance tracking method. Participants that complete one session per month get awarded with a badge that describes their new-learned skills. Once they earn 12 badges, they are given an “Adult-in-Action” medal to commemorate their time spent “adulting’’. What’s great is that those who are late to join or who want to go back and review any materials can easily do so. The supporting materials are available through their website, making it accessible to everyone.
Adulting for All Ages
When libraries first began offering these programs to their patrons, they were surprised to find that even older members of the community were taking advantage of classes. The Forsyth County Public Library in Georgia created an Adulting 101 series aimed at adults aged 18 to 30. This series included topics like health insurance, car buying, and interview skills. There were many people in attendance. What caught the librarian off guard was the amount of senior citizens that attended the events. She noted that many older adults came in hoping to learn skills they never had a chance to throughout their life. For example, a widowed man came in hoping to learn basics like couponing, sewing, and meal planning, all tasks that his wife used to take care of before she passed away.
What is useful nowadays is the large community of people who have dedicated their time to helping others. Many libraries have little to worry about when it comes to budget because so many people volunteer their expertise to these classes. There is even a Programming Librarian Interest on Facebook that helps generate ideas and feedback for librarians to use.
Libraries have been teaching and spreading knowledge since they were created. Now, it’s helpful to know that you can easily head to your local public library to catch up on any adult skills you feel like you still need. Your library is there to guide you through any aspect of your life.