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You Don’t Have to Visit the Library to Access Collections!

Posted by Tabitha Laffernis

Bonnie Pokorny, Mail-A-Book participant and teacher

Everyone is welcome at Queens Library – and that includes those who can’t visit our physical spaces. Mail-A-Book, Queens Library’s service dedicated to enriching the lives of our homebound patrons, is one of the library’s most popular programs. Mail-A-Book offers homebound customers the convenience of having library materials delivered to their door free of charge. These materials include books in large print, regular print, audio formats, DVDs, and CDs. The initiative has a range of materials available for all ages, with several titles available for children and young adults in addition to adults and seniors.

In addition to Mail-A-Book, Queens Library also runs a variety of teleconference and Skype programs, enabling older adults and the homebound to connect and interact with each other from the comfort of their homes. These webcasts can be streamed via computers or smartphones, and discussions cover several topics: history, art, culture, and even games like bingo.

And Mail-A-Book has passionate supporters. Bonnie Pokorny, a regular participant and now teacher, wrote an essay about her experiences:

“What is a community?  Is it defined by territory, beliefs, customs?

I know that I am part of a community that is largely ignored.  It is a community of Seniors, the disabled, and homebound.  It is a community of socially isolated individuals.  Many are depressed, lonely and bored.

Mail-A-Book addresses all these issues because it is unique.  It does not have a physical branch as all other branches do. Rather, Mail-A-Book goes to the members via USPS, teleconference calls and Skype and personal phone calls.

Madlyn Schneider, Older Adult and Homebound Coordinator

The staff is amazing. Madlyn Schneider, Older Adult/Homebound Coordinator, is a compassionate, efficient and extremely creative person. For example, she learned that a lot of members feel especially lonely on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  She has started the annual tradition of teleconferencing on those two dates to help people get through the holiday.  This program also allows me to research a topic on the Internet, and teach a class. I feel like I am still important and part of this world.

For the homebound, Mail-a-Book has become a link to social services. They link customers to City Meals on Wheels, the Department for the Aging, the Visiting Nurse Service, doctors who make house calls, social workers, Medicare Rights Center, and many more.  If they don’t know the answer they do what librarians do: they research and get back to us with help and information.

We wake up in the morning knowing there is going be some activity that we want to participate in, friends to call, activities and fun. We look forward to the day.” 

If you or somebody you know is interested in Mail-A-Book, simply click here to find out how to get involved. You can then request your desired title; or, alternatively, indicate a subject or language preference for recommendations. Materials will be sent to you via USPS in zippered canvas bags, and include return postage for when you’re done and ready for new entertainment!