By Dawn M. Chiossi
Sort of like a Netflix for libraries, Morris County residents are invited to enjoy the Libraries by Mail program sponsored by the Morris County Library.
This community outreach program is a free delivery service provided to individual residents of Morris County who are homebound.
As every book lover knows that even from a young age, going to the
library is a treat! Books and media enhance the quality of life and inspire people in all kinds of ways. Where else can someone go to take books and other mediums home with just a sweep of a card? Where else can people go to choose any number of books and styles: Fiction or nonfiction, adventure, horror, whatever they wish to read? And libraries are wonderful because after a couple of weeks, folks get to do it all over again when their selections are returned.
But what if people are homebound, disabled, lack transportation, or are just unable to get to the library? Should they just give up reading the books or the media they love? Should they just give up the fun of
acquiring new ones? Are they just plain stuck?
The answer to that is a resounding no! With the Libraries by Mail
program, readers don’t have to give up a thing. Those at Morris County Library realize that being homebound and enduring physical challenges should never impede people’s enjoyment of life.
This free delivery service brings books, movies and music to people’s
homes, opening worlds to them, transcending limitations.
How it works is that residents can request materials by mail, phone, or from the online catalog, select their own books and media. If they prefer, they can have librarians make selections based on people’s reading profile.
Books will be mailed with the return postage prepaid.
So far, approximately an impressive 200 enrollees take advantage of this program, and more than one dozen bags go out daily.
While it sounds extremely unique, Libraries by Mail is hardly a new
program. As Mitch Greenberg, Libraries by Mail coordinator from the
Morris County Library explains proudly, “For 45 years postpaid bags have been mailed out daily to the homebound both in residences and
institutions. Libraries by Mail serves an impressive 36 municipalities
across the county.”
He shares that even other local libraries rely on the Morris County
Library’s by Mail program if they lack mail delivery services of their
own. “It is that necessary,” Greenberg asserts.
The Library’s by Mail program began in 1983 as the brainchild of
librarian Sally Sullivan at a time when the only outreach program the
library had was a bookmobile service. Sullivan insightfully realized that folks who were forced to be homebound were a woefully underserved part of the population in regards to getting and enjoying services, so she applied for a NJ State grant to help, Greenberg shares.
Eventually Sullivan’s grant ran out, but her desire to help did not. As
such the Libraries by Mail program continued, undaunted.
“It has remained largely unchanged,” asserts Greenberg. “Even with the event of computer records, the human element has remained largely intact. Letters, phone calls, and e mails containing numerous requests, critiques and subject inquiries keep librarians busy.”
Items requested are full and varied, from books, movies, downloadable ebooks, audiobooks, video for the technologically savvy and large print materials for the visually impaired. They additionally take advantage of the NJ State Library “talking book program,” which offers thousands of additional digital audiobooks, audio-magazines and Braille materials.
Greenberg shares that Feedback for Libraries by Mail has been nothing but positive. Compliments range from “Love it,” to “Wonderful service,” and “You have made such a difference in my life.”
Excited for the program as well, Greenberg says “For as long as people appreciate physical books and are unable to get to the library, the Libraries By Mail Program at the Morris County Library will try to
make their lives better.”
Greenberg puts it perfectly when he says, “Whether the enrollees are
hospitalized, in wheelchairs, use walkers, or are just laid up from
surgeries or accidents, they all have one essential thing in common:
They are voracious readers who are grateful for the service.”
For further information or details, or to apply for this service, call the
Morris County Library at 973-285-6970, or visit their website