This session will open a much-needed conversation regarding the bases and consequences of using chronological age as a means of dividing and classifying public library programming, services, policy and planning. Categorizations based on age are deeply entrenched within LIS practice and education. With changes in population demographics, we are faced with a moment of rupture. We have the opportunity to reconsider when and how age should be used as a core organizing principle for collections, programming, librarians’ education and/or services.
The discussion will begin with an introduction to two specific age groups that have been traditionally siloed in libraries: older adults and young adults. Guided by two bodies of work (critical youth studies and critical gerontology), attendees are invited to draw from their own experiences and library practices and will be encouraged to begin to question age bracketing and consider the implications of bridging age groups.
This session will create a space where practitioners and scholars can go beyond dominant stereotypes or representations of youth or seniors, questioning “age appropriateness” and age-based classifications in LIS programs, services, policies, teaching and studies. The following questions will structure the conversation and are in place to trigger knowledge sharing:
– When can separation/categorization based on age be productive and when is it counter-productive? How does this impact LIS spaces, programming, and collections?
– How can we think about LIS education in a way that would allow for greater connections between age divisions?
– How can we establish a way of talking about age in LIS in a way that does not create an “other”?