January 8, 2010 — Charlotte Thornsberry has never read a book with her eyes, yet she devours a dozen or more every three weeks. She rarely goes to a library, yet she’s one of the district’s most faithful patrons.
Charlotte is visually impaired and recently has been in poor health, but nothing stands between her and a bestseller, thanks to library audiobooks. She is one of the 260 individuals in the Walking Books program offered throughout the Springfield-Greene County Library District.
It’s a free, home delivery service of library books, audiobooks, movies and music for children and adult card holders who can’t use the traditional library due to physical limitations such as a chronic or extended illness, or lengthy recovery period.
Shirley Brockman is limited by a chronic illness from going to the library. Her daughter, a movie buff, is being treated for a serious illness. Now both get books and movies through Walking Books.
It’s a personalized, labor-intensive service that the library couldn’t do without its staff of volunteers to review the reading preferences of patrons and select the materials; or to make deliveries to patrons on regularly scheduled routes, said Outreach Manager Allison Eckhardt.
Charlotte says she’s grateful for the good medicine that books bring.
“When I don’t feel well, I listen to a book and it takes my mind off of what’s going on, and I actually feel better,” Charlotte says. “I’ve never seen a bird fly and I’ve never seen a plane, but listening to books I can imagine that I see the bird fly, and I can imagine that I see the plane fly. It’s awesome.”
Charlotte’s experience is typical: First, Walking Books coordinator Linda Agee interviewed her about her literature likes and dislikes, and the format she prefers – audiobooks, in her case.
Every three weeks the Walking Books staff or volunteers automatically select titles that mirror Charlotte’s interests, keeping a record to avoid duplications. They also call Charlotte to remind her the next delivery is coming, take any special requests and pack the durable Walking Books tote with her materials. Then a volunteer driver delivers the bag to Charlotte’s door.
Looking for a great volunteer opportunity this year? Walking Books could serve more people with the help of individuals willing to select patrons’ materials as a Book Buddy, or to deliver books a few hours each month. If that sounds like you, or you’d like to know more about Walking Books, call 616-0580.
Kathleen O’Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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