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Library branches out!

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By Bryan Marshall

The Grant County Public Library is reaching out to the community beyond the walls of its Williamstown facility.

Two new programs allow readers to get books to read without even stepping foot inside the library.

The Outreach Homebound service is available to any residents of Grant County who have physical limitations or an illness that prevents them from traveling to the library.

The library’s outreach coordinator, Ann Kimble, assists in selecting materials that meet patron’s reading interests after they fill out a form showing their interests and favorite authors.

The books are kept for a two-week period.

The library has tried homebound service in the past utilizing volunteers and paid staff when they had extra time, but it was difficult to arrange and the library felt they were not offering the best service, said Wynita Worley, public services librarian.

Therefore, Kimble was hired as a part-time employee.

“This position was created to serve all ages, but mostly adults, who have disabilities that prevent them from leaving their home or who have very limited transportation to get to the library,” Worley said. “Outreach services will be able to bring them books and so that they can keep learning and pursuing their interests.”

“The new program has exceeded our expectations,” she said. “We now have four new outreach patrons from Grant Manor and at least three other callers from elsewhere in the community. We are getting calls every day so we are very pleased.”

Anyone interested in the service for themselves or a family member or friend, can call Kimble at 824-2080.

In addition to the homebound delivery of materials, the library is setting up more opportunities in the county for patrons to have access to reading material.

Collections of adult paperback books will soon be available in selected areas of the county.

The first collection is at Bruce’s Grocery, and the books may be checked out without a library card and are borrowed on the honor or good faith system.

The supply will be replenished periodically through books that are donated or have been weeded from the library’s collection, but are still in good shape.

A clipboard has been attached to the kiosk asking customers to write down the titles of the books they are taking so that the library will be able to see what books are most popular. They can also make suggestions for future book titles at the kiosk.

“Our plan is to have a honor location in each of the four areas: north, south, east, and west,” Worley said. “It is simply a matter of finding a popular location with a lot of people traffic and a location that is willing to host us.”

For about two years, the Grant County Library also has offered the Library Express, located at the Grant County Deposit Bank locations in Corinth and Crittenden.

Library card holders can reserve a book through their account online or by calling or e-mailing the library.

The book then will be delivered to the Library Express box locations at the northern and southern ends of the county.

Materials are delivered two times a week.

“They have been very popular and we keep reminding people that books, music and audiobooks can be delivered to those boxes,” Worley said. “We approached the bank about using those sites because they are so visible and well-lit to provide safe and easy access for our customers.”

Worley said the purpose of a library is to serve all populations and as many residents as possible, a goal that the Grant County Library is trying to meet with its outreach programs.

“We are not able to build other branches, but those Library Express delivery boxes can serve as an indicator for whether or not future branches would thrive there,” she said. “Right now, they serve mobile populations who are simply quite a distance from our library and they provide 24-hour accessibility.”