In the April Fountain: Program covers homebound readers
Outreach effort delivers books to seniors
By Sarah Robertson
When the temperature drops below freezing or it's raining so hard the street is barely visible, it's a good excuse to hunker down at home and wait it out - maybe with a cup of tea and a good book or old movie.
But for many senior citizens in the Liberty Lake community, being homebound isn't the result of bad weather. It's a way of life due to declining health or disabilities. A trip to the grocery store or doctor's office may be an all-day ordeal - if not impossible.
To ease the burden on area seniors and other homebound neighbors, the Liberty Lake Municipal Library provides outreach services to deliver books and other media to those who find a trip to the library too difficult.
The monthly program, coordinated by library clerk Ronda Gimlen, serves people with a 99019 or 99016 zip code. Gimlen delivers books, videos and audiobooks to those who sign up. Outreach clients may keep the items for four weeks, until they are picked up or traded for a new batch of materials. Outreach occurs on the last Wednesday of the month.
Basically, Gimlen is a librarian who makes house calls.
But for her, it's much more than just checking out books.
"I love seeing all my people," Gimlen said.
While some clients know exactly which authors or titles they like, many leave the decision up to her or give her a genre that they like and let Gimlen surprise them. They also are very keen to discuss the selections after reading or viewing them, Gimlen said. Some are quite the critics, she joked.
For Gimlen, it's clear that while people love having something new to read or watch every month, they also enjoy her visit and talking about the books or movies, or even just the weather.
Having worked with outreach services for the last five years, Gimlen said she also enjoys getting to know her clients. She even makes trips to deliver materials outside the last Wednesday of the month, if needed.
"We're pretty flexible. I can run materials out to someone on a different day if needed," Gimlen said.
The library also carries many specialized products that are often of interest to those who have trouble seeing or hearing. They carry a wide selection of large-print books and audiobooks, and most DVDs now have closed-captioning for those who are hard of hearing.
"I see a big variety of interests. Everything from Westerns and romance to bestsellers," Gimlen said of her outreach patrons.
People with a Liberty Lake Municipal Library card can sign up for outreach services. It is available to anyone homebound, not just senior citizens. Anyone interested may sign up for outreach services online or over the phone.
"We're all very friendly and willing to help walk anyone through the process of obtaining a library card or signing up for outreach services," Gimlen said of the library staff. "Just give us call!"
The library also offers other activities for all adults - not just seniors - including a book club, knitting group and computer classes. The computer classes are very popular, according to library staff. Held at 10:30 a.m. every Saturday by Travis Montgomery, they feature an open format that addresses just about any computer-related question.
The Liberty Lake Municipal Library is located at 23123 E Mission Avenue and can be reached by phone at 232-2510 during business hours. The library is open Monday through Saturday.