By Olivia Buck
Several weeks ago, I devised a plan for how the Home Delivery Service was going to continue serving its patrons during the coronavirus outbreak. I was going to call all of my patrons and have them opt-in to the service. Almost immediately after putting these plans in place, a shelter-in-place order was given and Bloomington Public Library was closing to the public. My plans, as good as they had seemed in the moment, needed to change so I made the decision to suspend the Home Delivery Service until further notice.
Suspending services indefinitely was a hard decision to have to make, especially after only having been the Home Delivery Coordinator for about a month and a half. However, I knew that my patrons were at a high risk for severe complications due to the virus. So, I rolled up my sleeves, wrote a letter, and called patrons, informing them of the temporary suspension of Home Delivery services. It took time to call everyone. Many of my patrons were disappointed, but very understanding, that we needed to make this decision. Still, I felt that I was letting everyone down. I couldn’t control the circumstances that made this necessary, but I felt responsible for not being able to continue to bring the library into their homes.
Later, I spoke with my dad about having to suspend the service until further notice. He said, “Isn’t there some way that you can still offer them services?” I told him that the online resources were still available and that I had let everyone know that I was still available to help them learn how to use them. However, I also knew that many of my patrons either didn’t have access to the internet or would have trouble using these services. At the time I didn’t know what else I could offer.
I kept this question in mind as I began working from home. Eventually, I came across the idea for teleprograms. No internet, no computer, and no smartphone required. All patrons would have to do is dial a toll-free number and then enter the meeting number in order to access a variety of live programs right at home.
● Wellness programs such as guided chair yoga or meditation sessions.
● Education programs about history, healthy habits, architecture, and more!
● Discussion topics where participants have a chance to join a discussion on sports, movies, and other topics.
● Music reviews in which participants listen and learn about opera, early rock ’n’ roll, and other musical genres.
● Live performances such as a live vocal performance or master storytelling sessions. I came across a company that offers telephone programs to seniors: Mather. https://www.mather.com/neighborhood-programs/telephone-topics I called and spoke with their Telephone Topics representative. Although they usually require registration prior to programs, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, they are not requiring registration at least through May. They were excited that I wanted to offer this service to our Home Delivery patrons. The best part? The service was completely free. I got the green light from my manager, and went to work making this service available to my Home Delivery patrons.
I wrote a letter informing my Home Delivery patrons of this new service and sent a schedule for all of the telephone programs that would be available to them for months of April and May. Each weekday, at least one telephone program was being offered. As soon as the letters went out, I started getting excited phone calls from my patrons. They were so excited about this service and that the library was making sure that they had something to fill their time while they were under quarantine. At this point, the teleprogram service has been available for a couple weeks and will continue throughout the month of May. I am thrilled that the teleprograms have been a success thus far and that even though deliveries are temporarily suspended, the Home Delivery Service is still bringing the library to its patrons.