EBCL brings the library to seniors in the area

SANDPOINT — Can’t make it to the library? The library comes to you.

Over the past six months, the East Bonner County Library District has restarted its outreach program, bringing resources to those who may not make it to the library.

The program, which began at Sandpoint Senior Center, brings books, music and other library materials to those who may not make it to the library, thanks to the efforts of EBCL Outreach Coordinator Andrea Evans.

“If I can change someone’s day, someone who would otherwise normally have been in isolation, that’s tremendous,” Evans said. “And so I’m hoping that has a ripple effect, and that’s really all it is. It’s not about finding the right book for the person who will love it. It connects.”

Evans has been attending the senior center for about six months and visits the Sandpoint facility every other Wednesday. The Woodland Crossing and Sixth Street housing complexes and Bridge Assisted Living soon followed. Evans said she would like to see more outreach sites and reach more people.

Every time she leaves the library, her shopping cart is loaded with books, music, CDs, and more. Some are the ever-present craft books and cookbooks, regular requests; others are elements based on past conversations.

“It’s all they could possibly dig,” she said of what she’s packing in the boxes. “I try to get in touch with them and get to know them somehow. And as soon as I know something about a person who may not have taken my services I will come back with a book they will love, you I got a few to take part in my adventures there just because I got something into brought with me in book form that we talked about. So I’m shameless in that regard.

Some of the items can be as simple as a construction paper to make an origami creation. Others could be a book on CD or an mp3-like device.

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As she tries to tighten the boxes and only takes what she needs, Evans laughed as she admitted it never seems to work out quite the way she thinks. There is always another book, another object that a library user can identify with, and so she usually brings it with her.

In addition to eight boxes packed with books of all genres and other library materials, Evans is bringing puzzles, trivia quizzes, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) activities designed to engage their customers, according to Evans.

She notes conversations and interests and brings suitable objects with her next time she visits. A chat with a patron led to a themed day featuring everything from aliens and UFOs to crop circles and cryptozoology.

“That was huge,” Evans said. “And it all came from just one lady who asked me about a book on Sasquatch. I could have just brought a book but it was so much fun and it really engaged a large population from the senior center to the whole town.”

She’s learned, she added, not to worry if someone shows up — or borrows books. What matters are the connections she makes.

“I may not have anyone showing up on all of this, but I’m really just enjoying the process,” Evans said. “I’ve learned that patience is key and that you shouldn’t get too attached to the outcome, just enjoy the process – and if one or two people come and we connect and engage and they’re happy, then that matters It is worth it.”

Evans, who has lived in Sandpoint for more than 30 years, said she has been self-employed most of the time. She wanted, she said, to do something different. Obsessed with “living on a bus one day,” Evans said she happened upon the job because she was helping with the bookmobile.

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“I’ve thrown myself into it and just can’t believe I’m getting paid to do something I enjoy way too much…it really feeds a part of me that I’ve never really used to give to the community.” to help.”

The job quickly became a “later career,” and Evans said she’s always looking for new ways to improve and expand the program. There are plans to add characters and slowly but surely the word is spreading and the outreach programs are starting to attract a few regulars. Evans said there’s no place she wouldn’t consider adding the program as an option to make the library accessible to community residents.

“Ultimately, my goal is to find the people who are stuck at home, who can’t come to the library, or who don’t have anyone to bring them something from the library,” she said. “We have miles of rural areas where I think a fairly large demographic would really benefit.”

What she loves about the program, Evans said, is that there’s no limit to the people she can reach — or help.

“The premise is that if you have no other means, we’re keen to come to you with the library,” she added.

She loves that the STEAM aspect of the outreach is helping people like her mother who is struggling with dementia. The resources that she and other outreach coordinators can make available to users are often already available at the library through their children’s programs.

“There are so many tools and resources that we can use, things like STEAM that we already use for children’s programs are so beneficial for seniors,” she added. “The more I learned, the more webinars they let me do, the more information I got, the more I realized that so many simple things we can do make a big impact because most of it is just being with to connect with them and get them to connect and maybe move, move their hands and then connect with other people and not feel so isolated.

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Evans said she doesn’t focus on an outcome; Instead, it connects, is there, and creates a “ripple effect of wonder”. She loves the idea of ​​incorporating the virtual reality of the library into something for local seniors to visit museums or places of their youth again.

Response to the program was immediate, with many seniors letting library staff and board members know how much they love the program. Because many seniors don’t drive more than necessary, Evans said they really value the library that comes to them and keeps them connected to the world — from books to music to movies.

The program is more than just entertainment – it makes information, resources and tools accessible to seniors and connects them with the youth of the community and vice versa.

When the East Bonner County Library District doesn’t have an article or book that she wants, Evans says she turns to the interlibrary loan program to find something on a desired topic.

Residents can register on the library’s website and download an admission form to see if they qualify for home delivery service, as well as a schedule of when it will be at any of the facilities currently being visited.

“Homebound could be anyone who has an illness, loses mobility and can’t make it to the library, such as E.g. new mothers, patients recovering from surgery, or anyone with a permanent physical disability or chronic illness,” Evans said. “I look forward to meeting them and bringing materials to their homes – anywhere in the Library District.”

Information: East Bonner County Library District, 208-263-6930, ext. 1281; or online at ebonnerlibrary.org/audience/seniors