Document Type

Community Connection

Publication Date



Traditionally community engagement for academic libraries translates as outreach to the academic community. But what are the possibilities when an academic library extends outreach to people not normally defined as university stakeholders? At Indiana State University (ISU), we learned that extending outreach to an untapped population can reap unexpected gains. For the past two years ISU instruction librarians have traveled to a local retirement community to teach computer skills as part of ISU’s Bites & Bytes program. The initial goal of the program was to benefit the community-at-large by providing these adult learners with therapeutic activity and a social outlet. We soon realized that we had to learn to teach to a new population of learners, and because of this our new students were teaching us as much – if not more – than we were teaching them. We adopted teaching techniques that addressed their unique learning styles and incorporated these newly acquired techniques into our upper division library instruction classes. And realizing that this outreach program could offer our university students opportunity for growth, we then partnered with faculty to open up Bites & Bytes as a field site for students enrolled in a freshman social work course. In this presentation we will trace the evolution of a library community outreach initiative that grew to become part of the university curriculum, review pedagogical approaches that work with elder adult learners, and relate how some of these approaches can be employed to teach students.