Home delivery for housebound library members

Coffs Harbour Library introduced a Home Library Service (HLS) in June, 1978. HLS brings the library to members of the community who are housebound due to age, illness or disability, including those who are full-time carers to people in such a situation. The Coffs Harbour HLS was and continues to be a free service available to all housebound members of the community.

The 1978 HLS started with Branch Librarian Lorraine Vass and volunteer driver Marie Dixon visiting 15 housebound people who were questioned about their reading preferences and requirements in regards to print size. After this initial visit with Lorraine, volunteer Marie would visit and deliver the requested materials to the members of the HLS every second Wednesday.

Coffs Harbour Library was the first branch of the Clarence Regional Library to offer a Home Library Service – the housebound residents of Coffs Harbour must have appreciated being the first recipients of this service in the area.

Back in 1978 the area covered by the HLS only included Coffs Harbour, from Macauleys Headland in the North, South to Thompsons Road and West to Shepherds Lane; though Lorraine and Marie were hopeful that in the future they would be able to extend the service.

By comparison in 2014, 36 years since the introduction of the first HLS, many things have changed but the foundation remains the same.

Lorraine and Marie would be delighted to know the service is now able to cover the entire city area. Currently there are over 60 people receiving HLS deliveries from Coffs Harbour City Library – stretching from North of Woolgoolga to Bonville in the South. Approximately 7,800 loans were issued to HLS members in 2013.

In 2011 the HLS delivery runs were changed from fortnightly to monthly and split into five delivery areas to accommodate the entire Local Government Area. The HLS is still mostly delivered Wednesday mornings, just as they were back in 1978.

Members of the Home Library Service have access to all items in the collection, including Fiction, Non-fiction, DVDs, Music CDs and Magazines though the most highly borrowed items in the HLS remain those to assist people with vision impairments – Talking Books and Large Print books.

In 1978 the HLS could not have functioned without volunteer driver Marie Dixon and this is something that has not changed. In 2014, Coffs Harbour City Library has a permanent member of staff to coordinate the service but the majority of the selection and delivery of items is carried out by volunteers – Shirley and Christine select the books to be issued and packed for the members of the HLS, Bob is our delivery man on Wednesdays for Coffs Harbour and Toormina, and Ken is our Northern suburbs delivery driver every fourth Thursday. As with many aspects of the library service, without the generous time given by this team of volunteers the Home Library Service simply would not function.

Those who receive the HLS are always appreciative of the service, some going so far as to say it has saved their life. It is very satisfying for the staff and volunteers involved in the HLS at Coffs Harbour City Library to provide a service that impacts the lives of housebound people in the community in such a positive way.

Written by Cassie Rowsell

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