By Katie Moran
When I was a kid, we would walk down to the local Carnegie library once a week. We would wander the stacks of books and wheel a wagon full of them back home. We would take part in Summer Reading Program every summer (which consisted of tracking books and programs in the library's basement). I have some very fond memories of doing so.
Looking back, however, I think about how a library now would have helped our family that much more.
Now the libraries do programs throughout the year, and not just during the summer. My mom taught us through elementary school, and we would have loved a homeschool program at the local library. We didn’t come from much money and relied on the resources around us. The fact that our library now provides free Internet access is amazing for families who need it.
The library has changed since I was a child, and even more so in the past couple of years with the pandemic and changing world. The needs of our community changes with time and the library works hard to meet those needs. Part of that change is recognizing not everyone can come to our library, especially during our open hours.
Four years ago, I learned there were several of our patrons who couldn’t make it into our library for a variety of reasons. I spoke with Kim, our director, and she agreed that starting a homebound program was needed for our library. The number of patrons using this program has varied throughout the years, but we’ve been able to deliver books, audiobooks, movies, etc. to patrons consistently. They must live within Turkey Creek Township, have a specific reason they can’t come to the library, and be willing to be flexible with the person making the deliveries. We have a system in place where patrons can either choose their own materials or have one of us at the library choose the materials for them. There are deliveries every two weeks to their homes to give them materials.
Everyone in this township is paying taxes toward this library so it makes sense to provide service to everyone we feasibly can.
That ties into my other outreach idea. This idea came about after the pandemic when we were still occasionally being asked about curbside pickup but also hearing comments about our open hours. People in the community were busy, working, out of town, etc. during our open hours. A director of a library in southern Indiana gave a talk on pickup lockers. I fell in love with the idea for our community, and, thankfully, our director did as well. Once again, I was able to ask about the program, and she gave the green light.
After almost a year of back orders and other delays, the curbside pickup lockers were installed. These can be used by any of our patrons regardless of if they are sick, busy, etc. Anyone can call asking for a book from our library (or if they’ve had a hold from another library come in), and we will place it in a locker for them. We say which locker is yours and the combination on the lock is always the last four digits of the library card. This is another way in which the library has changed/added its services to, hopefully, better serve our community.
Katie is the Syracuse-Turkey Creek Township Public Library's assistant director. She catalogs and helps choose adult new materials, all while being the go-to person for help with all technology problems at the library (patrons and library workers, alike).
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