by Mary Beth Riedner

The Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Interest Group (IGARD) of the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA) Division of the American Library Association (ALA) presented a poster at the IFLA WLIC 2016 which was held in Columbus, Ohio from Aug. 13-19, 2016.  The poster was entitled “Reconnecting Persons with Dementia to their Libraries:  Using Library Materials to Improve the Quality of Life for People Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias”.  Approximately 3,100 people from 137 countries visited the Congress.


Inspired by the IFLA Guidelines for Library Services to Persons with Dementia, libraries in the United States have begun to take concrete steps to implement the philosophy and principles outlined in that 2007 report. IGARD was created in 2013 to identify and coordinate the efforts of individual libraries across the country.   Authored by Mary Beth Riedner (Chair, IGARD) and Linda Gorman (Director, Harrison Library, Johns Hopkins Medical Center, Baltimore, MD), the poster showcased five successful programs and services that use books, music, video and technology to stimulate and engage people living with dementia:

  • Tales & Travel Program, Gail Borden Public Library District, Elgin, IL
  • Stories for Life Program, Springfield-Greene County Library, Springfield, MO
  • ElderPlus Reading Program, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, MD
  • Library Memory Café Project, Bridges Library System, Waukesha, WI
  • Memory Care and Technology Program, Worthington Libraries, Worthington, OH


Also highlighted were related professional tools, journal articles and a research study of the Tales & Travel Program funded by the National Library of Medicine. The poster used photographs of participants involved with sample materials, as well as graphics depicting research results.  It sought to promote discussion among librarians about how library resources can make a positive difference in the lives of people within their communities who are affected by dementia.


The IGARD poster was one of 203 posters displayed for three days (Aug. 15-17, 2016) within the Exhibition Hall.  This location near the vendors ensured high visibility among attendees.  During two, two-hour sessions on Aug. 15 and Aug. 16, Mary Beth Riedner and IGARD member Erik Johansen chatted about the poster with many interested parties.  Over 125 printed handouts were distributed to those who wanted additional information.  Many viewers chose to capture the poster with their phones/cameras.  While undocumented, many more attendees viewed the poster during the remaining hours that it was on display unattended.   The poster will also be published in the IFLA Library this fall under a Creative Commons license making it freely available to individuals around the world.


Networking opportunities are the most beneficial results of presenting a poster.  In addition to having face to face meetings with other IGARD members (notably Kayla Kuni and Tina Williams), there were many wonderful opportunities to interface with librarians within the United States and from across the globe (e.g., Australia, Italy, Great Britain) who are interested in providing library services to this too often forgotten population.  For others, the seed of this new concept was planted as a realistic service that could be replicated within their own communities.  One representative from an international library journal invited IGARD to submit an article on this topic to their publication.


One afternoon, an IFLA staff member brought a cameraman to record Mary Beth Riedner talking about the poster, as he thought our innovative topic might be of wide enough interest to be posted on the IFLA website as a follow-up to the Congress. Our poster was one of only a handful that were chosen for this kind of documentation.  It remains to be seen whether the recording gets posted, but this special treatment can be taken as verification that the possibility of improving the quality of life for persons with dementia using library materials is an idea whose time has come!

IGARD Poster

Poster Resources

Feature Image: Read by Lester Public Library