BRINGING THE LIBRARY TO THE COMMUNITY
by the Ready to Read, Mobile Services, and Home Delivery teams
As the previous article showcases, bringing community partners into Library spaces brings renewed attention to the idea of access. Taking the Library out into the community is also critical to increasing access to Library-specific services.
Next time you are at a popular family destination such as Mr. G’s Barn, the Toledo Zoo, or a park, take a look around and you will often see the Library’s Ready to Read team.
This group of four librarians serves as a traveling parent support unit – logging hundreds of miles per week as they travel throughout the community. They even ride along, talk with families, and give literacy tips on TARTA buses. Zoom appointments also are an option for busy families.
“We know that parents and caregivers of young children are busy,” Lauren Boeke, TLCPL assistant youth services coordinator, said. “By going to places they might already be and setting up an inviting table full of books, we can show the parents and caregivers how important – and easy! – it is to talk, read, sing, write, and play with children. Together, these activities are the building blocks that develop a child’s context and vocabulary.”
Help children learn to read. Have a measurable impact on the individual lives of children (birth through third grade) via Library tutoring, reading, and teacher-outreach programs in direct support of increasing the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment rate and the passing rate of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.
About two-thirds of children in the area are not ready for kindergarten, according to Ohio’s Kindergarten Readiness Assessment. This fact spurred the creation of the Library’s Ready to Read program in 2014, initially funded by the Library Legacy Foundation and now supported by the Library’s taxpayer-funded budget. (Some support from an endowment remains, used to purchase books for reading kits offered to families for free.)
One of the most visible ways the Library increases access to services is through Mobile Services, which includes a Bookmobile and Book Hauler.
The Bookmobile is on the road five days a week. Library staff drive to more than 50 locations each month, including senior residential complexes, city parks and Metroparks, Boys and Girls Clubs, Plate 21, Earnest Brew Works, and schools. Visitors come on board where the space feels like a traditional library with more than 3,000 books, music, magazines, and movies that can be checked out.
“We love the Bookmobile because they bring books, videos, and movies right to the front doors of Reynolds Senior Village,” said Tara Nelson, Community Manager. “Since we care for many older residents, many people don’t get a chance to venture out into the community. Having the Library come to our front door allows the residents to socialize and find new and interesting books, movies, and videos. And the Library staff are so kind and engaging and go out of their way to stock materials people will like.”
The Book Hauler also travels all over the community with stops at 30 locations per week. Library staff bring carts of materials directly to residents in senior independent living communities, nursing homes, and vocational/healthcare facilities. This on-the-spot service allows people to look through and check out materials easily.
“Our work is so rewarding,” Colleen McBride, Mobile Services manager, said. “It can be tough for many of the people we serve to travel to a Library location, but we can get to all kinds of places throughout the community to make an immediate difference. I know people love the service because they are often waiting for us when we arrive!”
Another Library access point is one many people don’t see – Home Delivery – which provides a monthly delivery of Library materials to customers who cannot visit due to medical reasons. The Home Delivery program has served customers for almost 40 years with doorstep deliveries of personalized selections based on customer requests and preferences.
“Home Delivery strives to create an engaging Library experience by providing books we think the customer will love, plus we help people with access to programming, reference services, and community information,” Franco Vitella, TLCPL Fact and Fiction manager, said. “Providing in-home Library access is an important way to keep people connected to their community. We hope customers feel like they have just visited their favorite Library branch with every delivery.”
Rosalyn Turner is one of the 169 customers the Library serves with Home Delivery. “Home Delivery is essential for me to be still able to interact with the Library,” she said. “The Library comes to me, and it enriches my life’s enjoyment. It gives me entertainment and relaxation. The staff have always been great, kind, and considerate.”
Marcus Zagoric agrees. “It’s nice of the Library to offer this service to those who are elderly or disabled,” he said. “I appreciate how you serve the public, and you should be commended for your good service.”
If you or someone you know could benefit from Ready to Read, Mobile Services, or Home Delivery, visit toledolibrary.org or call 419.259.5200. Together we will keep building a better community.