Beyond Ironing – Libraries and Adulting

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“Is there an app for that?” Not really.

Last month, North Bend Public Library‘s “Adulting 101” got noticed. Aimed at millennials who lack the skills needed to live independently,  the program teaches basics like cooking, getting a job, and talking to a landlord. Social media seized on the concept and the predictable “snowflake” comments rolled through the twittersphere.

But, on a deeper level, so did the economic and social realities of how we live today. Student loan debt, a fluctuating job market, and the residual effect of the boom-and-bust real estate market of the great recession are some of the reasons young adults remain in their parents’ homes and delay making adult decisions such as buying a house or getting married.

It’s no wonder, then, that North Bend and other public libraries see—and are answering—the need for programs aimed at helping young adults make sense of the world in which they find themselves.  The ALA Center for the Future of Libraries has even identified Emerging Adulthood as a trend relevant to libraries and librarianship.

So how do public libraries create programs that promote basic life skills in a way that’s meaningful for young adults?

1. Get out of the Library

For the most part, young adults leave the physical public library behind after high school and only to return later on when they have children of their own. So bring the power of the library to where they live their lives, be it a local coffee shop, pub, or bowling alley.

2. Make it Social

We all know the stereotype of the millennial ignoring the real world as they stare into the screen of their smart phone. But actually most young adults want, and seek out, social interaction. Featuring games, trivia contests, and other forms of socializing in your program can help draw individuals.  And, back to that smart phone for a minute, integrating “shareable” moments—and content—into your program will, in turn, help integrate the library into social media lives of young adults as well.

3. Know that Actual Adults May Also Want Adulting Lessons

It should come as no surprise that good programming will draw a crowd. Great basic information on saving, eating right, and creating a resume, for example, never loses its relevance and people of all ages will see its value. Add in the social element, and you’ll likely see older adults sharing their experiences and thoughts in a setting that helps the entire community.

4. Bring in Local Experts

Library resources (especially ours!) are key elements of any life skills program. But local experts can bring another dimension to the conversation.  For example, work with your local chapter of the National Association of Realtors® on home buying or a local Certified Financial Planner® professional to discuss investments.  Local community college staff and faculty can also lend their expertise in areas as diverse as student loan debt and healthy meal planning.

5. Provide Avenues for Further Exploration

By participating in your programs, young adults will see the value of their local public library in a new way, going beyond the “homework helper” or “study hall” role it may have had in their teen years.  It’s an opportunity to introduce them to the vast array of tools it holds for their new adult life (including our Health Reference Series Online), or to reintroduce them to resources that can still provide them with key introductory information to fundamental topics (such as our Teen Health Series and Teen Finance Series).

Find out more about how Omnigraphics’ resources at


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