Librarian Laura Roth, pictured at right, sees Audrey Murray regularly as one of the patrons she delivers to at the Carriage House. — Johnson Publications
From one book-lover to another, access to reading is delivered
Ask any book-lover, and they’ll tell you that a library has the power to take its patrons to another world. But what if someone can’t make it to the library? “No problem,” says librarian Laura Roth.
Heginbotham Library, among its myriad of services to the Holyoke community, offers delivery to its homebound patrons. We’re not talking exclusively books, either. Anything that can be checked out at the library can be delivered, including audiobooks, magazines and DVDs.
Though the program existed even before Roth took it on about 25 years ago, it tends to fly under the radar. At the moment, there are just eight individuals on Roth’s homebound delivery list, and a few others are on a temporary hiatus. At any given time, they make up a small percentage of the library’s patrons, but from the sound of it, the service means the world to them. Roth was quick to add that she’s always happy to see her list grow, too, and it’s as easy as calling the library at 970-854-2597 to get signed up.
Often those who utilize the library’s delivery service have a long history with Heginbotham Library. Take Carol Koontz, who was president of the library board when it was designated in 1988 and served on the first Friends of the Library board as well. She still speaks fondly of the library and now experiences it from a different angle as a regular recipient of deliveries. “I am constantly reading, so it’s a wonderful service to me,” said Koontz, who has a soft spot for murder mysteries.
By no means do people need a history with the library in order to take advantage of the home delivery service, Roth pointed out. Maybe they’ve never been there; maybe they don’t have a library card. Those things don’t matter to Roth, who will happily get anyone set up to receive deliveries. “Anything to make sure people can continue reading,” she said.
The “homebound” name for the program is a bit of a misnomer, as well. While some patrons may be truly unable to get out, others can be seen about town quite often. Heginbotham Library, however, can pose a distinct challenge for someone with mobility difficulties. For those people, too, Roth happily takes books and other materials to their homes.
Evelyn Lock is an example of one of those people. She is one of Roth’s usual stops at the Carriage House, but Lock said that when the weather’s nice, she’s always looking for an excuse to get out and about. Chances are good that most locals have, at some point, seen Lock making her way down the streets of Holyoke in her wheelchair, still very much an active member of the community. “Since I can’t get to the library, I really appreciate the delivery,” said Lock, who enjoys the library’s selection of videos as well as books.
Depending on a person’s circumstances, being homebound can be an isolating experience, Teresa Mailander pointed out. Her mother-in-law, Marie, used the library’s delivery service often while she was still living. “I think it’s a tremendous outreach that goes way above and beyond,” Mailander said. The library is especially good at providing materials that meet an individual’s needs, be it large-print books or audio recordings. Roth pointed out that both the Bookmobile and the Colorado Talking Book Library supplement Heginbotham Library’s selection.
Another benefit of the homebound delivery service is the presence of Roth herself. “To know there’s someone coming to see you, it’s a breath of fresh air to people,” Mailander said. “It makes a difference in their life.”
To hear it from Roth, that afternoon every two weeks is a joy on both the receiving and delivering end. “It’s such a rewarding part of my job,” she said, adding that she’s formed some incredible friendships as a result of the service.
When someone new signs up for delivery, there is a getting-to-know-you period for the first month or so, Roth said. She’s always happy to take requests for specific books, but as she gets to know people better, she said she begins to keep an eye out for materials she thinks they might enjoy. There are some patrons she’s known for years and has gotten to know very well. “I always hope to find something just right for them,” Roth said.
“We really cater to people’s interests,” she added. Many enjoy Christian fiction, historical fiction and Westerns. Some patrons want whatever is new. In addition to novels, there are requests for magazines and often cookbooks. Cookbooks by The Six Sisters have been especially popular, she said, emphasizing the range of things the library has to offer.
With programs from story time for toddlers, summer reading program for school-aged children and homebound delivery and an ever-changing collection, Heginbotham Library staff seems tireless on their quest to promote literacy and a love for books in people of all ages.