14 June 2021
Lisle Home Delivery Cart. Image credit: Lisle Library District.

Due to an out of state move, The Lisle Library District is saying good-bye to our amazing Home Delivery Coordinator, Winona Patterson, who has run the program since 2015. LLD’s Home Delivery program began in 1993 with two patrons and one volunteer and has grown over the years to approximately 70 participants and 3 community volunteers. This post shares some of Winona’s insights into the challenges and rewards of facilitating a successful Home Delivery program.

How would you describe LLD’s Home Delivery program?

The Lisle Library District’s Home Delivery program offers an opportunity for those who can’t get to the library, to have the library come to them. Deliveries occur every other Wednesday afternoon, and our patrons get all sorts of materials from the LLD. It’s mostly books in both regular and Large Print, but sometimes audiobooks, sometimes movies or music CDs – some even utilize our electronic resources like Hoopla, Libby, and Kanopy. And, of course, I help troubleshoot any issues they may be having with those electronic resources.

Who do we serve and where are they?

We serve around 70 patrons, in several types of places: individual residences, age-restricted apartment living, and senior complexes that serve everyone from independent senior living to around-the-clock care.

What makes LLD’s program unique?

Many libraries have all sorts of outreach services. What makes our Home Delivery program unique is that it’s tailored to the individual patron. I strive to give personalized service to all the Home Delivery patrons. Some just tell me what authors they like and ask me to choose books for them, giving me free rein to select not only books, but music and movies as well. Others will know exactly what they want and let me know via a phone call or an email.

How do volunteers assist you?

I have three amazing volunteers, some of whom have been with the program for longer than I have. They deliver the bagged items to patrons, either dropping them off at the individual’s home, or at the concierge desk at their place of residence. They are reliable, prompt, and selfless in their service to the community and the library.

How did you keep the program going during last spring’s pandemic closures?

About a month after the mid-March lockdown in 2020, my supervisor and the library director both asked if I would be willing to come into the library and call my patrons on a periodic basis. I had been thinking about my patrons and missing them terribly, and I was about to ask anyway if I could come in and call them! I came into the library for about two hours one mid-April day, masked and ready to make phone calls. My patrons were surprised and delighted to hear from me, and I let them know we were thinking of them (as they were in lockdown as well), and that we would return to the Home Delivery program as soon as it was safe to do so. I kept in touch every couple weeks, just like usual. We started the program back up in late May 2020, to the delight of my patrons and myself!

What has been the biggest challenge facilitating the Home Delivery program?

The biggest challenge I have faced is the rare occurrence when we do not get our materials back in a timely manner. There are a few patrons with memory issues and sometimes my gentle prodding isn’t enough. This is part of the reason I have an Alternate Contact listed on the application – a family member or friend who can help us get their materials back to the LLD. In the unfortunate incidence of the death of a Home Delivery patron, this Alternate Contact person often will call me and ask how to return the deceased patron’s items back to the library.

What has been the best part?

Honestly, it’s getting to know and appreciate my patrons. I lost my own mother in 2015, and some of the patrons I feel have taken over for her in her absence. They share stories of their grandkids and great-grandkids, and sometimes even their medical issues. I also get the occasional joke!

Heading up this program has enriched my life in ways I didn’t see coming when I took over the reins in 2015. I do my part to give my Home Delivery patrons the same exemplary service that any patron of the LLD should expect. Their situations may be different from someone who can physically come into the library, but their positive library experience should be the same. As the Baby Boomer generation ages and potentially declines physically, I see an increased need for assistance like Large Print books, audiobooks, and a service that brings the library and its treasures to them.