Library services for homebound readers

One of the most treasured memories I have of my grandparents is when my grandfather would read the Sunday paper to my grandmother. He had been reading the paper to her for over ten years, ever since she developed macular degeneration, eventually rendering her completely blind. She also listened to books-on-tape sent to her by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, a program managed by The Library of Congress. I can still remember the large, archaic tape recorder meant for listening to the tapes. My cousin and I used to sneak off with it and record ourselves pretending to be DJs of our very own radio station.

As a ten-year-old, I did not fully appreciate how important reading was to her. Now, as a 33-year-old book lover and aspiring librarian, I understand that reading was her window to the outside world. She was living in a virtual world of darkness and reading allowed her to regain her vision. Most people read to escape from the world. My grandmother read to once again have access to the world. This is exactly why it is so important for visually impaired and homebound people to continue to have access to the books they love. 

Recently, I was put in charge of the Home Reader Program. When I learned about this program, I instantly thought of how much my grandmother would have loved the service. The program is for patrons who are prevented from visiting the library due to illness or physical impairment. We match participants in the Princeton area with a volunteer who visits them at home and hand-picks books and other materials based on their personal tastes. We can also train volunteers to assist patrons in downloading e-books and audiobooks onto their devices. Many participants express that they have formed lifelong bonds of friendship through the program; some volunteers even go above and beyond merely delivering items and spend time talking with and reading to their assigned customer. If you are interested in joining the program or know someone who might be interested, please email Lisa Cassaly or call us at 609-924-9529, x1220.

For those customers who do not need service as involved as the Home Reader Program, but cannot get to the library for whatever reason, our Library-by-Mail service might be the perfect solution. This allows cardholders to receive and/or return books and other materials by mail (USPS) anywhere in the continental United States. This can be arranged directly through the library catalog when requesting an item. Alternatively, you can call, email or visit one of our desks with your request.

The Princeton Public Library strives to make it as easy as possible to get materials, no matter what your circumstance. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.  

Guest post written by library associate Lisa Cassaly.
Photo, “Girl Reading”, courtesy of flickr user Pedro Ribeiro Simoes through a Creative Commons license. No modifications were made. 

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