Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Books on Wheels programs deliver books to the elderly & homebound across the country

My local library is starting a terrific new service for the elderly and homebound. What I didn’t know is that libraries across the country offer similar much-needed services.

“Books on Wheels” was brought to my attention by Brittany Wilson, the Outreach Coordinator for the Chatham County (NC) Public Libraries. Her email said the libraries are launching a program in which volunteers will bring books and other library materials to homebound patrons in need of service. The recipients of this free service would have to live in the county, be mostly or completely homebound, and have (or sign up for) a library card. Those with temporary needs (such as a person recovering from surgery) would qualify. For further information, to volunteer to make deliveries,
or to sign up for the services, contact Ms. Wilson at 919-545-8064 or

The Whitehall Public Library in Pittsburgh has a similar program. The Whitehall “Books on Wheels” offers a home delivery service for any resident of Whitehall, regardless of age, who cannot come to the Library. An online Reader Profile Form must be filled out and returned to the library. Volunteers will deliver books, magazines, books on CDs and movies on DVD. To sign up for the service, call 412-882-6622.

Likewise, the Curtis Library in Brunswick, Maine, offers “Books on Wheels” to any resident of Brunswick or Harpswell who is unable to visit the library because of age, illness, or disability – be it permanent or temporary. It’s a free service but you need to have a library card.

Once you’re registered, you are matched with a volunteer who will deliver (and return) books as requested. Once matched, you call your designated volunteer or the library at 725-5242 ext. 301, and leave a message requesting the items you want delivered (or to request the pickup of a return).

Your designated volunteer will deliver books, including large print books, large print magazines, videos, audio books, music CDs, books and magazine articled ordered through interlibrary loans (although some lending libraries may charge a fee), and reference services. To register or for more information, e-mail or call 725-5242 ext. 301.

In Evanston, Illinois, the Evanston Public Library’s “Books on Wheels” program will deliver to “Evanston residents of any age who have difficulty coming in because of illness or disability.” Participants may request home delivery of books, movies or music from a volunteer.

To register, or for more information, leave a message at 847-448-8624, or email

In Roswell, New Mexico, the Roswell Public Library “Books on Wheels” program delivers books to individuals who are unable to come into the library. The program also assists people who are eligible to participate in the Books for the Blind and Physically Handicapped programs offered by the New Mexico State Library. To participate or volunteer, call the Roswell Public Library at 622-7101.

The Arlington (VA) Public Library's “Books on Wheels” delivers books and other material to senior residences, whether a single family home, assisted living facility or senior living apartment complex. The program can be reached at

Over in Berwick, Pennsylvania, the “Books on Wheels” makes the collection of the McBride Memorial Library available to people who cannot come in. Eligible patrons include most residents of the library’s service area who cannot get to the library due to illness, injury or disability. This consists of the temporarily homebound as well. The service area currently includes Berwick Borough, Briar Creek Borough, Briar Creek Township, Nescopeck Borough, Nescopeck Township, and Salem Township.

The Books on Wheels Coordinator or another staff member makes regular visits to assisted living and nursing homes, daycare and preschools, and private homes on a regular basis. Items available include fiction and non-fiction, large print books, books on tape, movies, and music CDs.

The service is free and the program is funded through the support of the Berwick Area United Way and individual contributions.

In addition to private homes, the locations visited are the Salem School, the Berwick School Lab, and the 14th Street School; senior residences and nursing homes, including Monroe Apartments, Senior Center, Elmcroft Assisted Living of Berwick, Berwick Retirement Village 1 and 2, and Rosewood Apartments; daycare centers including: Pre-K Counts, Headstart, Salem Preschool, All About Kids, Berwick Child Care Lab, YMCA daycare and Delightful Days.

To request service, you need to complete a Books on Wheels Service Request Form or call the library.

Children’s Books on Wheels (CBOW) is a non-profit mobile literacy organization established in Texas in 2004. Its mission is to “promote reading by providing books, educational literature, and community resources to Pre-K through 12th grade students and their families in rural communities and urban cities.” CBOW is located at the Sleepy Hollow Multi-Purpose Building, in a rural part of Montgomery County, Texas, in the Tamina community, east of the Woodlands, a low income community.

CBOW provides books to children and their families at no cost. CBOW also provides Social Service Application Assistance and Community Resource Referrals in English, and several other languages. 75% of the population served by CBOW is at or below the poverty level.

In 2004, CBOW was awarded a Google for Nonprofits Grant. This grant provides a Google Enterprise Account, Google Ad Grant, where Google awards a nonprofit organization $10,000 in advertising per month, a YouTube for Nonprofits Account, and a OneToday Account (Google’s Nonprofit Fundraising Platform).

Out Books on Wheels,” established by two lesbians and staffed by volunteers, is located in Massachusetts. It is “committed to supporting LGBT elders who want to continue enjoying life out of the closet via a LGBT mobile library and related services.”

LGBT viewers can access and select from the Library list online and contact staff via email or telephone for personal delivery.

Books are delivered to lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender elders living in the Pioneer Valley and near-surrounding areas of Massachusetts. Deliveries are made to private home, independent, and assisted living communities, rehabilitation and long-term care facilities, hospitals and senior centers.

Staffers are also available at the Lilly Library, Program Room, 19 Meadow Street, Florence, Massachusetts every second Sunday of the month from 2:30-3:30 p.m.

For further information, call 413-588-4019.

This is just a sampling of the “Books on Wheels” programs across the country. If you don’t have a “Books on Wheels” service in your town, wouldn’t it be a good idea to start one? If not you, then who?

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