Designing Adult Services
Strategies for Better Serving Your Community
by Ann Roberts
November 2017, 177pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-4408-5254-1
$50, £39, 44€, A69
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5255-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The American Library Association reports that more than 30 percent of adults rank the library at the top of their list of tax-supported services.

Focusing on adult patrons ages 19 through senior citizens, this book explains how libraries can best serve this portion of their community's population at different life stages and foster experiences that are "worth the trip"—whether actual or virtual.

Adult library patrons are busier than ever before—working, taking classes and studying for advanced degrees, caring for children, helping their aging parents, taking care of their homes or rental properties, planning and nurturing careers, managing investments and retirement funds, and inevitably retiring. Each of these endeavors can require highly specific learning and education. Throughout their lives, adults continue to have different information needs that the library and its services can fill. Designing Adult Services: Strategies for Better Serving Your Community discusses the many ways libraries can serve adults of various ages and at different life stages, covering online services, collection development, programming, and lifelong learning.

This guide’s unique approach simplifies the processes of designing and carrying out a successful adult services program for adult library users in all the various stages of life. The book is organized by age groups, with the respective information needs and life challenges. Each chapter suggests programs, services, and collection development strategies for the life stages. Public library administrators and managers as well as adult services librarians in public libraries will find this guide a must-read.


  • Helps librarians make their libraries the go-to places in the community for both information and recreation
  • Enables librarians to accurately analyze the demographics of their communities and identify the services needed
  • Offers simple suggestions to help librarians with limited resources provide age-appropriate services
  • Describes information and resources most likely needed during each life stage, making it easier to target the audience for both programming and publicity
Ann Roberts is a reference librarian at the United State Patent and Trademark Office, Public Search Facility. She has worked in public, academic, and government libraries, as well as with historical collections. She is author or coauthor of three other books in the Crash Course series by Libraries Unlimited: Crash Course in Library Gift Programs: The Reluctant Curator's Guide to Caring for Archives, Books, and Artifacts in a Library Setting; Crash Course in Library Services for Seniors; and Crash Course in Library Services to People with Disabilities.


"Roberts's holistic approach to addressing the physical, social, and intellectual needs of patrons as they navigate adulthood outshines similar titles. . . . VERDICT A stellar resource for public librarians."—Library Journal, March 1, 2018

"Best suited for public library administrators and staff seeking new vision, Designing Adult Services will give ample opportunity to view these services from a different perspective and move forward with tangible ideas. Recommended."—ARBA, March 13, 2018

"Ann Roberts in Designing Adult Services: Strategies for Better Serving Your Community starts with the need for community assessment and evaluation of services. She walks through possible services for different community demographics, including the emerging adult population ages 18–24 in one chapter and ages 25–30 in the next, recognizing the granularity of services that should be considered to be responsive to every demographic need. Chapters on older adults address these patrons and their caregivers. Stressing inclusivity, Roberts offers tips for serving new immigrants, disabled patrons, and the incarcerated. She also includes forms, specific collection development suggestions, and a competencies checklist."—American Libraries, March 1, 2018
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