About Tales and Travel Memories

Tales & Travel Memories is an innovative book and reading library program that provides services directly to people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias, not just their caregivers. Each one-hour program takes participants on an imaginary trip to another country or region of the United States and includes books, music, objects, folktales, and interesting facts about each destination country or region of the United States.

Tales and Travel Memories is delivered by volunteers and Gail Borden Public Library District staff to 12 assisted living facilities in Elgin, Illinois. Visits are arranged ahead of time, and volunteers often deliver the same destination to multiple facilities, ensuring that participants receive personal attention during the program.

Traveling kits in rolling carry-on suitcases are also available for check-out at Gail Borden Public Library. Kits include several non-fiction books about a destination, examples of music, a DVD, and other items. Smaller in scale than a full program, Tales and Travel Memories check-out kits are designed to provide a program experience in a one-on-one setting. This enables caregivers to engage with their loved ones in new ways, stimulate conversation, and reminisce.

Project Documentation

Grants and Awards

Tales and Travel Memories is an award-winning program and has received several grants and awards, including:


The RUSA Division Level Awards/ALA – ongoing annual award
Stephen T. Riedner Grant for Life Enhancing Library Programs for People Living with Dementia presents two grants of $2,500 each and a citation to two libraries to support the development of services and programming to directly serve those living with dementia. The funder wishes to encourage institutional commitment to serving this population.
Stephen T. Riedner Grant for Life Enhancing Library Programs for People Living with Dementia

In the News


On Oct. 19, 2022, Mary Beth Riedner presented a poster entitled “Can People Living with Dementia Read?  What Studies Show” at the Illinois Library Association’s Conference. 
Access the poster here and the handout here.


April 28, 2022 – Library Services for Dementia/Alzheimer’s (LSDA)/ODLOS/ALA Webinar
More and more librarians are realizing that people living with dementia can still benefit from using library materials, but they are often uncertain about how to actually do this.  After summarizing current research on this topic, this webinar will give practical advice about how to choose books and other reading materials that are uniquely suited to each individual, following the tenets of person-centered care.  In addition, ideas for developing group programming will be shared, based on successful programs held in libraries and memory cafes across the country and around the globe.  Literacy activities can include reading out loud, browsing through books, singing, choral reading of poetry, storytelling, improvisation and more.  Once you see how people respond to these opportunities, you will be hooked!
Engaging People Living with Dementia with Library Materials


For those who missed it, here is the segment promoting the use of books and reading that was unable to be displayed at the Public Library Association’s 2022 annual conference.  Click here!


Research Article on Tales & Travel
Dai, J. et al. (2021). Library services enriching community engagement for dementia care: The Tales & Travels Program at a Canadian Public Library as a case study.  Journal of Librarianship and Information Science. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/09610006211065170#.


Mary Beth Riedner, Karen Maki, and Miriam Lytle share writing credit on a chapter in the recently published book, The Relevant Library: Essays on Adapting to Changing Needs (McFarland & Company, 2018). The chapter, entitled “Becoming a Dementia-friendly Library,” details the role libraries can play in the lives of people with dementia. 


Tales & Travel Memories named 2017 Library of Congress Best Practices Honoree — December 22, 2017
Mary Beth Riedner’s acceptance speech highlighting Tales and Travel Memories as an honoree for best practices at the 2017 Library of Congress Literacy Awards ceremony:

PRESS RELEASE: Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden recently announced that the Tales & Travel Memories program of the Gail Borden Public Library District, Elgin, IL has been selected as a 2017 Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program Best Practice Honoree.
According to the press release announcing the 2017 Library of Congress Literacy Awards winners, “Three organizations received awards from Hayden and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein: the Children’s Literacy Initiative; the National Center for Families and Learning; and Pratham Books.  Originated by Rubenstein in 2013, Literacy Awards honor organizations working to promote literacy and reading in the United States and worldwide.  The awards recognize groups doing exemplary, innovative and replicable work, and they spotlight the need for the global community to unite in striving for universal literacy…The Library of Congress Literacy Awards program is also honoring 15 organizations for their implementation of best practices in literacy promotion.”  The Tales & Travel Memories program was designated as one of these 15 Best Practice Honorees!
As many of you know, the Tales & Travel Memories program takes persons living with dementia on an imaginary trip to locations across the globe using highly illustrated adult and children’s books along with other library materials.  “Travelers” take turns reading out loud from a folktale, legend or myth associated with the chosen location.  They are also invited to read aloud from a list of interesting facts.  Finally, they browse through carefully selected books which stimulate memories and spark conversations with the volunteers and library staff conducting the program.  Supplementary materials including music, artifacts from the destination, coloring pages and even food make the program multi-sensory.  This one-hour monthly program has been offered at over 15 memory care facilities in the Elgin, IL area.  Circulating kits based on the program have also been made available for those who are living at home.
Librarians across the country are invited to replicate this program in their own communities and many have already done so.  There is a Tales and Travel Memories website that contains a free tool box with 12 excursion guides and 31 folktales made accessible through a Creative Commons license.
Librarians from the Gail Borden Public Library attended the conference and awards ceremony which was held at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 28, 2017.


Stimulating Minds: Libraries develop programs to serve patrons with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias,” by Terra Dankowski. Published in American Libraries, February 9, 2015. Retrieved from http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2015/02/09/stimulating-minds/ 11 April 2016.


Serving People with Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Excellent 21st Century libraries must reach underserved and isolated populations,” by Mary Beth Riedner, Karen Maki, and Miriam Anderson Lytle. Published in Strategic Library, July 2014. Retrieved from http://cld.bz/L41Qhuo#8/z 11 April 2016.

Five Million and Counting,” by Phil Morehart. Published in American Libraries, March 14, 2014. Retrieved from http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/five-million-and-counting/ 11 April 2016.

Tales & Travel Memories was honored in 2014 by the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation and Family Caregiver Alliance National Center on Caregiving. To learn more, take a look at the “Now and Then” vignette on Tales & Travel Memories.

To Contribute

To make a tax-deductible contribution to help Tales and Travel Memories continue reaching older adults with dementia, send a check to the following address:

Gail Borden Public Library Foundation
Gail Borden Public Library District
270 N. Grove Avenue, Elgin, IL 60120

Please write “Karen Maki Fund for Memory Programs” in your check memo.

Tales & Travel Memories is currently supported by a combination of grant funds and the Karen Maki Fund for memory care programs, administered by the Gail Borden Public Library Foundation in Elgin, Illinois.