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Library reaching out to community

by Jeff Saunders | reporter Published: April 28, 2016 2:23 PM
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If library patrons cannot get to the library, the library can come to them, so to speak.

Thanks to the Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library's adult outreach program, people who have difficulty getting to the library for such reasons as age, disability or illness do not have to go without its services. In addition, the children's outreach program helps introduce the very young to books.

"I regularly visit 13 every month, day cares and preschools," said Children Services Outreach Librarian Amanda Rome, who also regularly goes to area elementary schools and other locations, such as coffee shops.

Adult Outreach Librarian Jackie McCloud said the adult program began in February 2001 at Keys Towers on Fishcreek Road in Stow. It now visits seven locations, visiting them in a 2016 Ford Transit XLT Wagon, a commercial-grade vehicle the library has had since December. In addition, volunteers take materials to individual homes for those who are homebound.

"In 2015 we served a combined total of 1,374 patrons for the Outreach and the Homebound programs," said McCloud. "These programs circulated a combined total of 9,844 items."

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Library serves patrons

where they live

The adult outreach staff now visit seven facilities in the Stow and Munroe Falls and Keys Towers is still on the list for adult visits, which typically last 30 to 45 minutes twice a month.

"It works out nice because they can make requests and don't have to wait too long," said McCloud.

McCloud and Adult Outreach Assistant Sara Leighton took six plastic bins filled mostly with books, but with some CDs and DVDs, for one such visit Feb. 9, laying the items on several tables in a common room for any residents with a library card who chose to come down and look.

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"We bring a variety and they're able to request things as well," said Leighton.

Ten residents, mostly senior citizens, came; 29 items were checked out, not counting those specifically requested. McCloud and Leighton used a tablet computer to handle the checkouts.

Examples of books, many in large print, placed on tables included mysteries, thrillers and Westerns, with such authors as Jonathan Kellerman, Clive Cussler, Iris Johansen and Ton Clancy represented. There were also non-fiction books, such as "Killing Kennedy" and Killing Lincoln," both by Bill O'Reilly, and "41: A Portrait of My Father" by George W. Bush.

DVDs included "Field of Dreams," "When Harry Met Sally," the remake of "True Grit" and "Citizen Kane" and documentaries like "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe" and the "Planet Earth" series.

Musical artists on the CD table included Harry Connick Jr., Dolly Parton, John Coltrane and a compilation, "The 100 Best Jazz Tunes of the 1950s."

"It really depends on what the residents have asked for," said McCloud of the choices. "We kind of have to keep track of residents' preferences."

Resident Lillian James, 86, has lived at Keys Towers for 15 years.

"I come down whenever they're here," she said. "It means a lot to me. I can't get out to the library and I read all the time."

James' selections included "In the Dark, Dark Wood," a thriller by Ruth Ware, and the non-fiction "Kate: The Future Queen."

"It's good that they get out here," said James.

David Calderone, 44, who came with his dog Dierks, is legally blind and checked out a couple of audio books that McCloud thought he would like: "The Murder House" by James Patterson and "The Racketeer" by John Grisham. He said he likes mysteries and thrillers, but also some non-fiction, such as biographies.

"It means a lot to me because I don't get out much," said Calderone. "I hope they keep doing it. It's a nice program."

Meanwhile, last year a total of 717 items were loaned out to people who are homebound in their own houses. Judy Cohen-Baer, has volunteered about five years.

"I see the same ladies every two weeks," she said. "I've had as many as four every two weeks. Right now, I have three. They're all really enthusiastic readers."

She said people she sees may be elderly or not able to leave their homes for other reasons, such as a disability.

"They're all really excited to have [the program]. One of my ladies says it's like getting a Christmas package every two weeks. They're excited to see what we have," said Cohen-Baer, adding that "I meet the most lovely people."

"It's really a wonderful loan service the library does," she said. "It strengthens the community and it's one of the things that makes the library special."

McCloud said that at the facilities the library visits, library cards can be issued on site to those who do not have one and want to begin checking out materials.

For the homebound program, she said the issue of someone not having a card has never come up, but she believes they can be similarly accommodated. The individual must live in Stow or Munroe Falls to be eligible for the homebound program, said McCloud, and acceptance is subject to an interview by library staff at the home to ensure eligibility, as well as the safety of volunteers visiting the home. Accepted reasons for being homebound can include age and disability, but also more temporary reasons, such as illness or injury.

McCloud can be reached at 330-688-3295, ext. 129 for more information.

'Library equals books

equals fun'

Last year, the children's outreach program averaged about 25 programs for about 800 children and caregivers at 26 locations around Stow and Munroe Falls, according to Rome.

Story times, a summer reading program, a Preschool and Daycare Fair in February and a booth at Summer Sunset Blast on Labor Day weekend were included activities by the children's outreach program last year.

Rome leads family nights at Stow Alliance Preschool at Stow Alliance Church and Summit County Preschool at Indian Trail Elementary School, with stories, crafts and snacks for a combined total of more than 200 people.

A Mini Masterpieces Art Show included about 250 pieces by children at five area preschools and daycare center.

In all, nearly 13,000 books were loaned out in 2015, including to teachers, through the children's outreach program

Rome said she is uncertain when the children's outreach program began, but she is in her fourth year and is the fifth person to hold her position.

"The library has been doing most of this stuff a lot longer than I've been doing it," she said.

Rome said the number one goal of the outreach program is improving literacy and an enjoyment of reading.

"The kids love it," she said. "My equation is the library equals books equals fun."

On Feb. 24, she paid a visit to Summit County Preschool students at Indian Trail Elementary School, reading to the children, singing songs and telling a story with puppets, with children taking part by pretending they were the wind that blows a hat around to various farm animals.

"It's amazing," said preschool teacher Jenifer Smith. "The kids are thoroughly animated by Amanda's presentation. You can tell a lot of preparation goes into it."

Rome gave a modest response to this assessment.

"I do my best," she said.

Email: jsaunders@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9431

Facebook: Jeff Saunders Record

Twitter: /JeffSaunders_RP


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