Health services in Lithuania are struggling to keep up with the country’s aging population. Many pensioners cannot afford a healthy living standard, and suffer as a result of poor nutrition, stress and unhealthy lifestyles. Lithuanian public libraries traditionally serve seniors, and the introduction of ICT in libraries across the country means they can offer new services to seniors. However, according to government statistics (2012), 83% of Lithuanians aged over 65 have never used computers. Older people are therefore missing out on online information about care, healthier lifestyles and opportunities for social networking.
The innovative service
The Kaunas County Public Library (KCPL) BiblioHealth service was initiated with support from the EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) in 2014. The service works through KCPL and three municipal libraries, in Vilkaviškis, Birštonas and Jonava districts. It offers free access to the internet, and computer and e-literacy training for the over 60s. The service provides reliable information about healthy lifestyles and organizes lectures and demonstrations on healthy activities like exercise, yoga, meditation and relaxation.
EIFL-PLIP Project timeline
November 2011 - October 2012.
Achievements and Impact
In less than a year (2011/2012), KCPL attracted 1,430 people aged over 60 to healthy lifestyle events, and increased the number of over-60s using the library by over 200.
Librarians created a BiblioHealth website with links to more than 100 health resources, and with ideas and advice for the over-60s.
In partnership with psychologists from Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University, KCPL hosted a conference on Aging and Mental Health, attended by over 170 doctors, nurses, psychologists and social workers, students of elderly care and senior citizens. The conference raised visibility of the problems facing the elderly and led to a formal agreement with Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University to work together in future.
The service won recognition, and is now profiled on the European Union Active Aging 2012 website as a commendable initiative.
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