Book Buddy Program Fights Isolation

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INTRODUCTION:

If you’ve ever had a long recovery after a medical procedure, you know just how boring life can become when you’re not able to leave the house. After a few days, you’ve read all the magazines, the TV shows blur together, and your regular internet haunts seem stale. You long for contact from the outside world.

For folks with chronic health conditions or other circumstances that prevent them from leaving their home, this boredom can quickly turn to social isolation. Many people in Nevada County, particularly seniors, go days or weeks without seeing another person and have few options for intellectual stimulation.

If you or someone you know is in this situation, it might be time to get a Book Buddy.

CHAPTER ONE: Book Buddies Bring the Library to You

“The book buddy program volunteer brings me books and conversation more important than my food and drink.”

The Book Buddy program is a service of the Nevada County Community Library. The program connects folks in Western Nevada County who are unable to get to the library with volunteer “book buddies” who bring the library to them.

Book buddies bring not just books, but also CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, and even reference materials. All items are checked out on the library patron’s card and delivered to their home, free of charge. There are no late fees for Book Buddy patrons.

Book buddies are matched with library patrons based on their schedules, location, and interests. Each patron is assigned their own personal book buddy. According to program coordinator Judith Bell, these are relationships built on a love of books.

The Book Buddy program is a personalized service, Bell said. “The patron guides it.” Patrons can request specific titles, books by favorite authors, or let their book buddy choose what to bring. Bell said she’s often surfed the stacks looking for the perfect book for her patron.

CHAPTER TWO: Eligibility

The Book Buddy program is designed to serve those who have a disability, chronic illness, or injury that prevents them from getting to the library for at least six months. There is no age restriction.

The service is available for folks living in their own homes or in a skilled nursing facility.

Because the program is individualized based on each patron’s preferences, the process starts with a meeting in the patron’s home. Book Buddy Coordinator Judith Bell interviews each patron to get a sense of what they like and don’t like, learn about their favorite genres and authors, and better understand their media preferences (like books on tape or large print materials). This helps Judith match each patron with their perfect book buddy. The result is often a relationship that lasts for years.

CHAPTER THREE: Getting Connected

If the Book Buddy program sounds like a good fit for you or someone you know, call Kathy Miller at 530-265-1407 to start the process.

Referrals can be made by family members, friends, social workers, or anyone who knows someone who can’t make it to the library.

CHAPTER FOUR: Becoming a Book Buddy

“I always look forward to seeing my book buddy and hearing what she has to say about the books that have been read.”

The Book Buddy program is always looking for volunteers who love books and want to connect with others in the community.

Book buddies provide a vital link to the outside world. Because they are often the only person a patron might see, volunteers should be upbeat, enthusiastic, and patient.

Like the program’s patrons, Book Buddy volunteers are interviewed about their interests and preferences. Book buddies are expected to give approximately four to six hours of their time each month and must provide their own transportation.

To learn more about becoming a book buddy, contact Kathy Miller at 530-265-1407.

EPILOGUE: Discovering New Worlds

The Book Buddy program improves the quality of life of folks in our community. Whether you are a patron of the program or a volunteer, this unique service can help you connect to a world beyond your own—just what a library should do.