Library Services to Homebound Patrons

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Libraries provide free access to all members of their communities.

And that means all, including those who are homebound.

Examples abound of libraries willing to go the extra mile - quite literally.

The Dayton Metro Library delivers e-readers to homebound patrons.

In an interview for Sue Polanka's blog "No Shelf Required," the library's outreach service manager, Rachel Gut, said services to the homebound began in 1977 with the assistance of grant money.

"It basically was a program to deliver mostly large type, although at that time we did deliver regular type as well, to individuals who were typically older and were just unable to get out of their home."

That program grew to include all materials the library checks out, including DVDs, CDs and audiobooks.

Recently, the program expanded to include e-readers.

"Some of our patrons who were wanting large-type materials were unable to get them in the subjects that they wanted, especially non-fiction."

In one instance, a women wanted Strokes for Dummies.

"We noticed that it was available as an e-book but it was not available as large type."

After thinking about ways to fulfill her request, an e-reader was the obvious choice, since the woman did not have a computer.

The library then began thinking of ways to fund the program. Solutions soon emerged.

An anonymous donor gave the library $500. Another patron who received homebound services also gave regular donations to fund the e-readers. The library used the seed money to purchase e-readers.

Eventually, the library received a deal through OverDrive, which distributes e-books to libraries. Under the arrangement, the library received free e-readers for purchasing a quantity of e-books.

With another grant, the library's e-reader arsenal grew to 22. 

Gut said the program has benefited two groups in particular - those for whom titles have not been available in large type and those who find it difficult to hold large-type books because of issues like arthritis.

Another advantage of the e-readers is the ability it gives patrons to adjust the font size.

Library services to the homebound recently received attention in the press through an article in Newsday

The article noted the 54 libraries in the Nassau (N.Y.) Library System offer a variety of services. In some cases, the libraries deliver material by hand.

The website of the Multnomah (Ore.) County Library promotes its services to the homebound, saying, "Our driver will bring books, both large print and regular print, and other library materials to your home.

In addition, it notes that its library outreach services brings the library to 30 different retirement homes each month, offering a large selection of books, audio and movies for residents to browse and check out.

The website also points to the talking books and braille services offered by the Oregon State Library.

Interested in homebound services? Check out your local library.



Snapshot Day at the Rapid City Public Library
Rapid City Public Library
A Rapid City Public Library volunteer gets books ready for delivery to a participant in the Homebound Delivery Program. The program delivers to over 100 people each month.

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