The main priority of libraries is to provide services for the people in their community. Libraries do a lot for the patrons who use the library by providing programs and items that can be checked out. How do libraries make sure these same services are also available to the patrons who are unable to leave their homes?
Homebound patrons can include those who are temporarily or permanently confined to their homes due to illness, disability, surgery, age, etc. They may be feeling isolated and bored and in need of the services that your library can provide. Some of the ways that you can provide services to homebound patrons include:
Mail delivery. Staff members can select items based on the patrons’ interests or the patrons can request specific titles and send them through the mail.
Home delivery. Staff members or volunteers take items directly to the patrons’ houses on a regular schedule. If you go this route, make sure to have rules/policies to make sure that the patrons are providing an appropriate and safe environment for the staff/volunteers and that the service can be suspended if unsafe/inappropriate conditions exist (threatening behavior, wearing revealing attire, unconfined pets, etc.).
Delivery with other services. Find a service that already delivers and see if they would be willing to deliver books, as well. One service you could check with is Meals-on-Wheels.
Book discussion groups. If the patrons give permission, the library could connect patrons with each other so they can discuss books and other interests they share.
Special interest visits. Library volunteers can visit the homebound patrons and discuss hobbies, interests, etc. The volunteer could also record the experience as part of an oral history project for the library.
What types of services does your library provide to homebound patrons?
Check back next week for the next part in Services for Homebound Patrons, where we will discuss how to figure out who your homebound patrons are and how to make them aware of what the library can offer them.