In 2014, the Brookfield Public Library celebrates its Centennial anniversary. Throughout the last century, the Library has served the community as a place where people of all ages come to be informed and inspired. Children laugh and learn through storytimes and programs, adults perform research and learn new skills, and people of all ages discover new books and share in their love of reading. And while the services libraries provide are available to everyone with a library card, the tools and equipment needed have changed throughout the years. Remember when “library technology” consisted of a card catalog, a set of encyclopedias, and a microfilm machine? Now not only can you can search for books and information online through the Library’s website, you can even download books and do research from the comfort of your home. Residents may also become better acquainted with today’s technological trends through the Library’s equipment and workshops.

The transition from print to digital may seem simple to some, but these changes have been difficult for others to keep up with, especially senior citizens. Technological advances, as well as physical barriers such as narrow aisles, can cause stress and confusion for seniors utilizing modern library services. As library services and the needs of communities continue to evolve, it is important to have a flexible facility that can adapt to those needs. In connection with the Brookfield Public Library’s Centennial, the Board of Trustees are seeking members of the community to provide input and feedback on the Library’s Improvement Plan. Serving on the Facility Advisory Committee gives local seniors the opportunity to offer commentary on the building plans and share their suggestions for creating a senior-friendly facility. 

“The Brookfield Public Library has been very supportive of our senior living community for many years,” says Marti Hannon, Director of Life Enrichment at Cantata Adult Life Services, and a fellow Brookfield resident, “we hope that our input can help with the development a new community space that better accommodates all visitors. For over ten years the Brookfield Public Library has provided outreach and socialization programs at Cantata Adult Life Services, a senior living community located in Brookfield. They host unique programs and services for clients at Cantata’s Independent Living Apartment Homes and Assisted Living Building. In turn, Cantata has supported various community events hosted by the Library, such as the Taste of Brookfield @ Your Library. It was through this long-standing partnership that Cantata clients became involved in the exciting and upcoming changes of the Brookfield Public Library.

“Our clients love the monthly outings to the Library, so it’s important to me that they feel comfortable utilizing the Library’s services while they’re there.” says Marti. “To assist the Facility Advisory Committee, Cantata is providing the transportation for the Committee to visit select area libraries to evaluate their size, design, and availability of resources.”

With the help of Cantata and members of the community, the Brookfield Public Library hopes to determine what types of barriers to avoid or advantages to add when discussing the new facility. This could include larger plans, like a dedicated section for large print books, to smaller touches such as larger computer keyboards to make typing easier for seniors.

“Builders always think of having wider aisles, but they forget about other details that cause you to struggle, like not having hand rails,” says Dale, a Cantata campus living client who serves on the Library’s Facility Advisory Committee. Dale joined the Committee because she felt that she could provide the Library with a unique perspective on the accessibility challenges that seniors face.

She also wanted to find another way to connect with the Brookfield community. “We [seniors] should take advantage of free resources offered at Library to help us feel more comfortable with technology, equipment and Internet usage,” says Dale. “It’s a valuable tool, and to test out a computer or eReader for free before you buy one is great!”

Dale, along with other Facility Advisory Committee members, will present their findings and suggestions to the Committee in June. Moving forward, she is excited to see the finished product. Her involvement with the Facility Advisory Committee has already helped her feel valued in the community.

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