The Peru Free Library (PFL), a member of the Clinton Essex Franklin Library System, is located in New York’s North Country, near the U.S.-Canadian Border. PFL found great success in offering their first creative aging program: “Radio Theater!” by building consensus on the art form among 55+ community members, and then identifying a qualified teaching artist.
The library’s rural location and inexperience in the program model presented a few challenges: identifying qualified teaching artists; selecting the right kind of program; and attracting participants to this new option.
To help build an infrastructure for creative aging programming, Lifetime Arts trained both the librarians in the Clinton Essex Franklin Library System and potential teaching artists in the region. Librarians also learned how to identify, vet and hire appropriate and qualified teaching artists.
After the teaching artists completed their training, their credentials were shared with the librarians. They also were invited to apply to the Lifetime Arts Creative Aging Roster, a free, online database of vetted teaching artists who are qualified to deliver creative aging programs.
When trying to determine what type of program to offer to the library’s patrons, the library director spoke with several community members about potential offerings. One of the suggestions was a creative aging program in radio theater. Many community members responded very positively to this idea because there were not accessible theater programs for 55+ in that area. The library moved forward with their plans, and the program was such a big hit with the community that the library offered a second program the following year titled “More Radio Theater!”
The second year the program was offered, the teaching artist hired to teach the class, Karen Hildebrand, also worked at the nearby State University of New York, Plattsburgh. Due to Karen’s affiliation with the university, she was able to leverage the college’s communication platform to amplify promotion for the program. In addition, Karen utilized her relationship with local radio station WIRY to broadcast their final performance live on the air.
Host Organization Name
Peru Free Library
Host Organization Description
Peru Free Library is a part of Clinton Essex Franklin Library System. The Clinton Essex Franklin Library System is a non-profit federated library system serving 33 public libraries and reading centers in Clinton, Essex, and Franklin Counties. Their official mission is to foster and improve public library service to the residents of the System area. The system accomplishes its mission by support of local libraries and reading centers, by direct service to areas without a library or with populations which cannot easily reach a near-by library, and by service to organizations, groups, and individuals unable to use traditional library services (outreach). It also serves as a link to the global library network and provides leadership and advocacy for library and literacy issues on a regional and state level. The System was the first multi-county system in New York State, established in 1954 by joint resolution of the Boards of Supervisors of Clinton and Essex Counties. Franklin County joined the federation in 1962. The Library System was chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York on June 25, 1954 and is one of 23 public library systems serving the state.
Host Organization Website
The 8-week “Radio Theater!” workshop brought older adults together to explore, create, and perform a dramatic work specifically designed for an audio presentation.
Classic radio theater dramas were read aloud and analyzed to develop the participants’ understanding of a theatrical script and story arc. The teaching artist, Karen Hildebrand, explored character development and demonstrated how to use vocal techniques to bring the characters to life. The program was coordinated by Becky Pace.
This program met in a meeting room in the library with excellent acoustics.
Materials included, scripts, rented sound and recording equipment. The library also furnished participants with CDs of the performance.
The library sent press releases to local newspapers, radio and tv stations. Additionally the program was advertised through the library newsletter, and flyers were distributed to local churches and businesses. The local university also promoted the programming via their digital newsletter.
At the culminating event, the participants performed a radio theater script, including sound effects, at an audio-recorded public performance. WIRY Radio Station partnered with PFL on this program.
Creative Aging in New York State Libraries Project
This innovative project supports collaborations between professional teaching artists and public libraries through the implementation of free instructional arts programs for older adults. Supported by funds from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and designed and administered by Lifetime Arts, Inc., the project builds the capacity of libraries to serve an aging population by providing expert technical assistance, professional development, and access to resources and funding.
Case Study Details
case study topicsInnovative Curriculum, Partnerships, Recruitment, Teaching Artist Focus
organization typeLibrary System
art formPerforming Arts, Theatre
program site typeLibraries
includes virtual programming?No
8-12 sessions @ 90-120 min.
funding sourceFederal Funding
Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)