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Libraries Reach Out to Homebound

Can’t get to your local library? Let the library come to you.

“Libraries are eager to find new ways to engage older adults,” says Miguel A. Figueroa, acting director of literacy and outreach at the American Library Association.

For example, a phone-in discussion group is a recent addition to the Queens Library’s Mail-a-Book program in New York, which provides 700 homebound individuals and 32 assisted care facilities with books, movies and music for free. Twice a week, participants dial a toll-free number and enter a code. For up to two hours they chat about books, poetry, current events, recipes or “what life was like in the 1920s,” says library manager Madlyn Schneider.

Others phone in when it’s time for bingo or trivia. Between 10 and 20 people are usually on a call.

Schneider coordinated a recent course on “Women Artists at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” “For someone who can’t get out of the house,” she says, “it’s bringing the museum to them.”

Susan Kreimer writes about health and medicine.

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