About the Senior Activity Kits Collection
The Senior Activity Kit Collection of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh was established in 1992 through an LSCA Title I grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The original intent of the collection was to provide resource material for older adult programming for the district libraries of Allegheny County who would otherwise not be able to afford such items. The collection was housed at the District Film Center and received little use. When the Film Center was disbanded, the items were transferred to the Main Library and were placed under the direction of the Reference Services. It was decided at this point to try to reach a wider audience with these materials by loaning them to program and activity directors of senior centers, nursing homes, and other group institutions.
The collection consists of 175 separate "kits", some with multiple copies. Many of these are multi piece, multimedia resources produced by BiFolkal Inc. to be used recreationally with the more frail elderly. There are also a number of consumer and crime prevention materials from AARP for informational programming for a more diverse and active audience. A few kits are actually videos or manuals with information for starting intergenerational programs. Some materials are sing-along tapes, videos just for fun, or slides to teach art appreciation. There is something within this collection to appeal to just about every group, whether they meet for a program in the library or reside in a personal care facility.
Since the collection is primarily designed for use with the older adult population, most of the kits are to aid in the practice of reminiscing. As a person gets older, life review becomes more important. Several of the kits in the collection are actually books on the subject of reminiscing, explanations of and suggestions for the methods involved.
The process of reviewing memories helps validate who they are and builds their sense of identity. At a time in their lives when older adults may feel most vulnerable, isolated or lonely, reminiscing and memory-sharing helps restore confidence and self-esteem and acknowledges their contribution to life.
1. Carmel Sheridan, Reminiscence: Uncovering a Lifetime of Memories, (San Francisco: Elder Press, 1991), back cover.