RetroActive hits 1,000 members

A Q&A with Jack Altman, the library's Older Adults Specialist, about the library's booming retiree program

by Kayla Cook, Media Relations & Communications Specialist

With attendance up by 64% in 2023, I wanted to learn more from Jack Altman, the library's Older Adults Specialist, about how Retirement Boot Camp (now RetroActive) started, how it's going, and why the name changed. If you're looking for a fun way to connect with your peers in the Lawrence community, this is the library group for you!

Why does the library have a retiree program?

Jack: There are programs for every other age demographic and yet older adults are the fastest growing group. Older adults also have a higher risk of isolation. Even active older adults are looking for activities and opportunities to make new friendships.

Who attends the retiree program events?

Jack: The program is open to anyone interested in sharing interests with others who are generally in their 60s, 70s, and 80s, retired or not.

What’s the history of the retiree program?

Jack: The program was the brainchild of Kathleen Morgan, Cathy Hamilton, and Logan Isaman, starting with individual programs targeting this age demographic. With their efforts, initial grants helped fund it and now funding from the Capital Federal

Foundation and the Sharyn and David Katzman Endowment go directly toward maintaining RetroActive.

On October 1, 2019, the first Wii Bowling took place with about 10-12 individuals and became a regular weekly program. To me, this marks the beginning of continuous programming and the initial date of the program as we know it now. When the pandemic hit, unlike other older adult library programs, these three leaders felt that older adults could handle online programming through Zoom while other cities discontinued programming assuming older adults were not tech savvy enough.

The Lawrence program was right, and the program grew during Covid! When the pandemic ended, the addition of a multitude of in-person events allowed members to choose what they wanted to attend from a rather large menu. Today we average 12-18 events per month. Wow!

What's “the heart” of the retiree program?

Jack: Lawrence is consistently ranked as one of the best places to retire in America.

The library is always in search of benefits we can provide to our community, so we set three goals for our RetroActive program: learn, have fun, and make new friends. But, the real goal is social interaction.

The program also exists to expose folks to (and encourage them to take advantage of) library resources, possibly unknown learning opportunities in our surrounding communities available at historic sites, museums, green spaces and nature, wine, beer, and spirit-making, agriculture, art, city services, culture, and more.

We also work closely with the Douglas County Senior Resource Center. They are a wonderful partner! Together, we're able to offer a fabulous variety of programs.

Thinking back, what are your top three memories from events in 2023?

Jack: "Tables of Content" for starters. This totally social, interactive experience was the most rewarding because folks walked away having made new connections and exchanging contact information with each other around common interests. Also, "Cocktail Hour" is super. We meet monthly and local mixologists teach us how to mix and sample cocktails with lesser-known ingredients.

Lastly, the Black Jack Battle Ground tour. We watched a reenactment and celebrated John Brown’s 223rd birthday (on the actual date) with a birthday cake!

Why the name change?

Jack: At the end of 2023, we learned that a business in New Hampshire holds the trademark on the "Retirement Bootcamp" name. After getting advice from the LPLFF Board, legal counsel, and our wonderful library marketing team, we determined that our best approach was to rebrand and pick a new name.

People love RetroActive!

“Kudos to you all on offering this great way for us to meet each other, find out cool things, and have some fun."

“I'm constantly impressed with your commitment to and enthusiasm for creating so many diverse and enriching opportunities for seniors. This library, and programming like this, is part of the heart of Lawrence. Thank you.”

"Your hard work with the Library and this program is both an educational and social asset to the community. The efforts are greatly appreciated.”

“Thank you for all that you do to offer retiree programming through the library. I always learn something and appreciate your work and that of the various speakers.”

To join RetroActive, email Jack Altman at:

Library retiree events are made possible by the Capitol Federal Foundation and the Sharyn & David Katzman Endowment. More at

Article originally found in the Reader: Lawrence Public Library News & Events Calendar

About Lawrence Public Library
Lawrence Public Library (LPL for short) is a community hub that believes in the power of connecting with each other through shared knowledge and resources. Located in the heart of Downtown Lawrence, Kansas, we are committed to providing a space where our community can learn, connect, create, and grow through access to our vast collections, resources, services, programs, and knowledgeable staff. The library is supported by tax dollars, record-breaking book sales and philanthropic efforts by the LPL Friends & Foundation, and the dedicated efforts of more than 300 volunteers. All are welcome.




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