Thursday, August 23, 2007

Low-tech solution enhances library book access


The Hants Journal

A new method of service delivery will have some residents rushing to their mailboxes this fall.

On Sept. 4 the Annapolis Valley Regional Library (AVRL) will launch “Books by Mail”, a free library outreach service. The program is designed to assist seniors and other patrons who find getting to their local library a challenge.

Users of the program can pre-register and then order their favourite reads by phone, online or mail. Books are sent directly to the user for free, with return postage paid.

“Because we live in such a rural area and have such a broad database, it makes sense to provide a service that’s accessible,” says Books By Mail (BBM) clerk Wendy Kearns.

Kearns said the service will reach more then just seniors and is available to anyone who meets the criteria laid out in the program. Patrons with mobility issues and/or families without access to a vehicle will be able to receive library books in their homes.

To be eligible, users must be residents of the Annapolis Valley and live more than 10km away from a library or who are unable physically to visit a branch.

Funding for the program became available when one of two bookmobiles was retired this spring. “The bookmobile was just too old and needed too many repairs,” Kearns said. So rather than invest in a new one, monies were directed toward BBM instead.

“The service has been very popular, very successful in other regions so that’s the direction we want to go,” Kearns said.

With technology so predominant, BBM is a very low-tech solution. “Imagine how exciting it’ll be to get mail again,” Kearns said.

Ensures access for rural patrons

Municipal Councillor Shirley Pineo chairs the AVRL board and says BBM is a great idea for residents in her area. “It’s especially good for someone who is disabled or sick at home and just wants something to read.”

She said also that since some of the mobile runs have been cut, it’s important that rural patrons still have access.

Kearns said the dimensions of some mailboxes could be an issue because if the books are too large, they may end up at the post office instead. “The size of the mailbox might determine how many books we can send at one time or how large a book will fit.”

That information will be important when registering for BBM. As well, users don’t have to order specific books; they can note preferences when they register and library staff will send out a selection.

The books will be mailed directly from the AVRL headquarters in Bridgetown, but registration forms can be picked up and dropped off at local branches.

There are no fines for overdue material, however, Kearns said in that instance no further books would be mailed until the others are returned.

For more information on this service call 1-866-922-0229 or e-mail or follow the link at

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