Library Launches New Memory Kits

by Emily Glimco, Communications & Marketing Coordinator, April 2022

Photo of Memory Kits on shelfAccording to the Alzheimer's Association, about 1 in 9 Americans age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s, which amounts to more than 6 million people. In response to the growing number of people affected by Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions, libraries across the country have been developing memory kits for their patrons, and the Addison Public Library is the latest to join the trend.

Addison Public Library cardholders can now check out interactive kits, called Memory Kits, to help their loved ones stimulate their minds in a fun and engaging way. Collection Development Coordinator Karen Dini has been leading the project, working with library staff to create themes for each Memory Kit backpack and curate the items inside.

“The kits are geared towards people who have family members with memory-related issues, or are caregivers for someone with memory-related issues,” said Dini. “The idea is to spur conversation, whether it’s talking about memories that the kits bring out or just spending quality time together.”

The library currently has six Memory Kits on shelf, each with a unique theme: dogs, cats, outer space, zoos, the 1950s, and the 1960s. Dini said the library is actively working on cataloging more Memory Kits and will have 15 or 16 kits in total over the next several weeks.

“Other libraries have had really unique ideas for their kits that they put together, so we drew inspiration from some of the kit themes we saw while we were researching,” said Dini.”

Future Memory Kit themes will include cooking, Chicago sports, gardening, and more.

While each Memory Kit is different, borrowers can expect to find a mix of books, DVDs, music, and activities or games. Kits also include at least one fidget toy or stress ball to help the person experiencing memory loss have an outlet for anxiety or restlessness they may feel. Some kits also include a book specifically designed to give caregivers tips and support while caring for their loved ones with memory loss.

The items inside vary based on the kit’s theme; for example, the dog-themed Memory Kit includes the book Really Important Stuff My Dog Has Taught Me by Cynthia Copeland, a dogs and puppies memory game, the classic Lassie films, coloring sheets, a CD with songs about dogs, and even a toy dog.

“The backpacks really take the guesswork out of planning engaging activities for someone who has dementia, and each kit has a lot of different aspects to it, so they can be used in a lot of different ways,” said Dini. “We wanted the Memory Kits to be versatile and open-ended, so that everyone can use the kits however they like and get the most out of them.”

Dini said it is exciting to see the Library of Things collection expand to include Memory Kits, and she hopes people take advantage of this new library offering.

“With a variety of items inside each Memory Kit, people with Alzheimer’s or memory issues can stimulate their brains in a variety of ways,” said Dini. “At best, we hope people feel more connected and engaged while they use the kits, but at the very least, we hope people have fun together.”