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“Unboxed” LGBTQ Intergenerational Online Digital Storytelling Project

This program announcement describes “Unboxed,” the Denver Public Library’s LGBTQ Intergenerational Online Digital Storytelling Project. Held during 2020-2021, during the pandemic, “Unboxed” brought together older adults identifying at LGBTQ+ with teen-agers who also identified as LGBTQ+. The program was organized collaboratively with StoryCenter. Two facilitators from the Center, both identifying as LGBTQ, facilitated the 10-week series. the program used many of the features of the Lifetime Arts Creative Aging program model.

According to Amy DelPo, developer of “Unboxed” and Manager of Older Adult Services at the Denver Public Library, participants learned about the power and the techniques of storytelling, while also having the opportunity to shape and tell their own stories. For some of them, the program offered a first-time opportunity to discuss the challenges of being LGBTQ+. For both generations the exchange was valuable, especially learning how the experience of being LGBTQ+ has changed, and not changed, over time.

“Unboxed” complemented other activities offered by the Library for LGBTQ+ families and adults.  It was the only offering specifically involving older LGBTQ+ adults. As such, it offers an instructive model for other libraries and cultural institutions.


Embrace Aging!

Denver Public Library offers multiple services and programs for older adults, ranging from financial planning assistance and mindfulness programs to special programs for LGBTQ+ Older Adults. The “Embrace Aging!” blog is curated by Amy DelPo, Manager of Older Adult Services.

“Embrace Aging!” was the title of the April 2022 blog, in which DelPo discusses her approach to aging and older adult programming. She references psychiatrist Carl Jung and psychologist Gene Cohen, whose work influenced general understanding of aging, in particular older adults’ creative potential and capacity to experience aging as a positive experience.

Jung and Cohen did not ignore the difficult realities of aging, but they implored us to put those realities into context and see them as only part of a complicated and often beautiful experience”.

Aging Better with the Denver Public Library: Report on Older Adult Services

The Aging Better Report by Denver Public Library (DPL) on its 2019-2020 Older Adult Services is more than the usual departmental report. It is based on a philosophy about aging and learning, exemplified in the opening phrase “We View Age as a Gift”; it reflects significant institutional commitment to the work of the department; and it frames DPL’s work in the context of the demographic changes taking place across the country.

Aging Better lists the various trainings offered to library and older adult services staff on such topics as “How the Adult Brain Works” and “Changing the Narrative: Ending Ageism”. It describes the variety of Older Adult Services programs and also their “Powerful Impacts,” and it devotes a section to COVID-19 Responses, i.e., the shift to virtual programming.

The report also mentions the variety of programs offered across the Library system, ranging from “Basics in Printmaking” to weekly sessions on mindfulness. The importance of community partnership is reflected in the array of organizations with which the library collaborates to carry out its programs. Aging Better as an exemplary Report that sends a strong message about how public libraries can creatively develop and institutionalize innovative programs that align with the diverse needs of older adults in the 21st century.