While the serves numerous voracious readers, not all patrons can stroll up to the check-out counter and get their weekly fill of literature.
One sector of readers, some devouring as many as 15 books every two weeks, are elderly or otherwise homebound and require the aid of others in receiving their reads.
For more than 50 years, the Burlingame Public Library has provided outreach services to members of the community who need books brought to them.
“I’ve had a blind patron, I have a couple patrons in wheelchairs,” said Outreach Coordinator Jan Eustis. “So it’s not, ‘I can’t make it today, I’m busy can you drop by?’ It’s basically people that have legitimate reasons for why they can’t get in.”
Eustis gathers books for the patrons and sends them out through her cadre of five volunteers, although she said she’s always looking for more. She keeps excel spreadsheets of each patron and the books each has read—she has 10 spreadsheets for one--as well as a fairly detailed application outlining the types of stories the residents enjoy.
“Jan not only coordinates the delivery, but she selects materials for them based on their reading list,” said City Librarian Patricia Harding. “It’s an involved process.”
Eustis said sometimes her 15 to 20 patrons call her with particular titles and other times they complain about a book she selected. Additionally, as an avid reader herself, she sometimes forgets certain details of books she hands out to others.
“I’ve had a patron come up and say, ‘I loved the book you’ve recommended, but I was very frightened by the stalker,’” Eustis said. “I could not remember there was a stalker in the story…so you have to be careful.”
The service delivers for homebound Burlingame and Hillsborough residents, as well as to some senior living facilities, including Mills Estate Villa, Atria, Burlingame Long-Term Care and Marian Convent. Some of these locations have individual patrons, but others like Mills Estate Villa require one drop off of 50 books a month that are placed on a shelf for everyone to peruse.
Volunteers deliver everything from books to magazines to DVDs to musical CDs to patrons, visiting the same residents about every two weeks, often forming relationships with the homebound readers.
“Not only is it just delivering the materials, it’s also the contact with an outside person that you can develop a relationship [with],” said Harding. “It’s a wonderful program and Jan does an excellent job working with the volunteers and the patrons.”
Harding said as the San Mateo County population continues to age, this type of delivery service will likely find itself more in demand.
Over the years, patrons have ranged from receiving a couple books every few weeks to eight books, two magazines and two DVDs every two weeks. The oldest patron to date was 104 years old.
“It’s a really nice service, and the patrons really, really appreciate it,” said Eustis. To get involved as a volunteer or patron of the home delivery service, contact Eustis at 650-558-7417 or email Eustis@plsinfo.org.