Tales and Travel Memories

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A growing problem

More than five million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and other dementias, a number that is rapidly climbing as Baby Boomers age. Public, academic and medical libraries can and should play an important role in enriching the lives of this too-often forgotten population.

What is Tales and Travel Memories?

Tales and Travel Memories is an innovative project that provides library services directly to the people diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, not just to their caregivers. It has received a positive reception by nursing homes and their residents, demonstrating a real need for serving this special population.

View our video to see the project in action.

"The Tales and Travel Memories program has become a favorite among the residents...this program has blossomed into a monthly adventure."
--Nursing home program services director

How does it work?

Designed by retired academic librarian Mary Beth Riedner and Gail Borden Public Library District staff and volunteers, the series is offered monthly to diagnosed people at local memory care facilities. Developed in compliance with the International Federation of Library Associations' (IFLA) Guidelines for Library Services to Persons with Dementia, each one-hour program uses the theme of an imaginary excursion to a destination around the globe. 

Sample agenda for an excursion:

  • Each person is greeted personally as s/he enters the room.
  • A globe or large map is used to show each person where s/he is now and where the selected country or state is located.
  • Residents take turns reading aloud from a folktale or a story representative of the area. The story has been retyped in large font and each person receives a copy to keep.
  • Five interesting facts about the location, also typed in large font, are read aloud by the residents.
  • Highly illustrated books about the destination, selected from the library's adult and children's collections, are distributed. The residents browse through several books at their own pace.
  • Music, souvenirs, coloring pages, flags and sometimes food can be incorporated into the program.
  • Informal conversation with library staff and volunteers adds a personal and social touch to the program. Be creative and have fun!

Tool Box

Feel free to use any of the following for your own program:

Excursion Guides



How can I find out more?

  1. Consider joining ALA's Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies' (ASCLA) Interest Group for Alzheimer's and Related Dementia (IGARD).
  2. Visit and "like" our Facebook page.
  3. Contact us at

About the program

Tales and Travel Memories was awarded an American Library Association (ALA) Carnegie-Whitney grant in 2013 to create bibliographies and packaged outreach programs for libraries nationwide to use at no charge. Dominican University's Graduate School of Library and Information Science is proud to serve as the project's educational partner.

Updated March 5, Miriam Lytle