Beyond the Shelf: La Jolla Library is at the service of seniors

Beyond the Shelf logo
(Daniel K. Lew)

Beyond the Shelf is a monthly column about the activities and people at the La Jolla/Riford Library.

Adults 65 and older make up 18 percent of the population in La Jolla, and the La Jolla/Riford Library is proud to serve them.

The 2020 U.S. Census reported a rapid increase in the size of the 65-and-older population, which grew by over a third since 2010. This increase is driven by the aging of baby boomers, or those born between 1946 and 1964.

Senior citizens, far from a homogenous group, span a range of ages and levels of activity. A 65-year-old has different needs than a 95-year-old, for instance. The La Jolla/Riford Library strives to recognize and match these nuances with an array of offerings. Browse our events calendar and you will notice Mind-Body-Fitness for Older Adults at 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Qi Gong at 9:30 a.m. Wednesdays. We also offer other types of enrichments, such as lectures, staged readings, ikebana and writing groups.

Volunteering represents a uniquely rewarding opportunity. The History Room, Memory Lab and Homework Help program are run by volunteers, many of them retirees seeking to stay occupied and engaged.

The Friends of the Library Bookstore in our building is also run by volunteers, such as Nan Feldon, who taught high school English for decades and spends about 10 hours a week at the shop. “I love helping people and supporting the library,” she said. “I am a big believer in public libraries.”

The La Jolla/Riford Library's holiday card drive for seniors collected 1,014 cards.
(Katia Graham)

In December, the library organized a holiday card drive with the aim of collecting 783 cards to distribute among residents of 16 assisted-living facilities. The community outpouring was such that we collected 1,014 cards, the majority of which were homemade by youths and adults alike. As a result, we delivered cards to 17 assisted-living facilities and gave the remainder of colorful season’s greetings to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla on Dec. 21.

A holiday card submitted for the La Jolla/Riford Library's December drive for senior citizens
Holiday cards submitted for the La Jolla/Riford Library’s December drive for senior citizens put smiles on the faces of library staff members.
(Katia Graham)

The holiday cards drew a smile on the faces of library staff members who sorted through the treasures and bundled them for each facility. I got a kick out of the “Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart” card. The ones with sweet messages from local Girl Scout troops and La Jolla Elementary School students and families warmed the soul.

During the month we collected cards, it was not uncommon to witness giddy adults hurrying into the library with cards they’d prepared using eclectic craft materials or a carefully articulated wish.

This message from a second-grader was among those collected during the La Jolla/Riford Library's holiday card drive.
This message from a La Jolla second-grader was among those collected during the La Jolla/Riford Library’s holiday card drive for senior citizens.
(Katia Graham)

As part of the La Jolla/Riford Library’s Pitch Your Passion program for teens, La Jolla High School student Emily Cheng recently inspired a group of students to brainstorm how they might organize a community service project centered on using music to help people with memory loss.

The result was not Christmas caroling but Valentine’s caroling. The library’s Teen Troupe members are scheduled to sing classic love songs to residents of the White Sands La Jolla senior community at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11.

“My grandmother has Alzheimer’s and lives in China,” Emily said. “I’m not able to be with her physically, so it’s valuable to me to have opportunities like this to connect with others who have similar situations.”

New to the library collection are memory kits designed to stimulate conversation and quality time among family members, friends and caregivers. Kits include a “Remember the Decades” (‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s or 2000s) series, conversation card games on a variety of topics, and the Call-to-Mind board game.

Each kit is available for checkout.

Speaking of checking out items from our collection, assisted-living facilities in La Jolla have the option to apply for “company” library cards, which provide activity directors the opportunity to check out books or alternate resources for their residents. For details on obtaining a special library card for an assisted-living facility, please call the library at (858) 552-1657 or email

Katia Graham is the youth services librarian at the La Jolla/Riford Library. She has a master’s degree in library and information science from USC. Questions? Email her at