Library delivers to homebound readers

OCEANSIDE — For more than a decade the Oceanside Public Library has been delivering books to the doors of homebound patrons who are disabled, bedridden or can no longer drive.

The library Homebound Services fills in the gap for seniors who do not drive and can’t access public transportation due to physical limitations or bus routes. It also helps those recovering at home from surgery or an extended illness.

Hilary Holley, librarian I, facilitates the program.

“I love talking to volunteers and hearing their stories about how excited people are about the service,” Holley said.

Volunteer Marlene Suliteanu has delivered books, audio books, music CDs and magazines to homebound patrons for five years. She said patrons thank the library for the wonderful service and her for the brief visits, which they say matter as much as the books.

“It’s vital,” Suliteanu said.

To receive Homebound delivery service residents must have a library card and fill out an application in person at the library’s Civic Center or Mission branch, or provide information over the phone.

Once answers are provided on a patron’s preferred reading materials and address, they are matched up with a program volunteer who lives close by and shares their reading interest. From there the volunteer and patron work out a monthly delivery schedule to check out and return books.

Holley said spending extra time with patrons is voluntary, but most volunteers develop a friendship with homebound patrons.

“It’s a voluntary and crucial part of the service for people who are not able to leave the house,” Holley said.

Each volunteer delivers books to three or four patrons a month.

Holley said patrons often learn about the service by word-o-mouth. Volunteers frequently inform her that a friend of the person they deliver books to also wants service.

To ensure more patrons are reached, the library has launched a targeted outreach plan to inform seniors about the program. Flyers and program information have been distributed to Oceanside senior living facilities. Information has also been handed out by Meals on Wheels delivery volunteers.

The goal is to recruit a total of 15 volunteers and service 50 residents. Holley said as long as there are volunteers, she sees no limit to the program.

“The bigger the better,” Holley said.

Holley said she recently received a request for service from a woman who was just shy of her 99th birthday.

“She’s still reading large type books, and is not able to drive anymore,” Holley said. “She was so present on the phone, telling jokes, it was a pleasure to chat with her. That’s the kind of people we’re working with.”

Last year the library’s Homebound Services program delivered 288 books to 18 patrons with the help of five volunteers. The program strives to further the library’s goal to reach everyone in the community, and provide widespread access to library materials and resources.

For more information on Homebound Services, contact Hilary Holley at (760) 435-5577.

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