About to celebrate her 90th birthday, Mrs. Jackie Linneman can honestly say she has had a lifelong relationship with the public library system. An avid reader from a very young age, Jackie fondly recalls her trips to the former location of the public library in Covington. In fact, the Carnegie Library at 10th and Scott was her first library.
Over the course of her life, Jackie has moved out of the Tri-state area and back again a handful of times, and she says that each time she moved to a new city, the first thing she looked for was the nearest public library. “Mrs. Linneman always finds her library people!” she stated proudly during our interview. “Librarians…I just love them! I don’t know what I’d do without them. I am very, very lucky.”
Eight years ago, Jackie retired from her job selling perfume in downtown Cincinnati, and moved into an apartment at Atria Highland Crossing, a senior living facility in Fort Wright, KY. Prior to that move, she had been living in Fort Thomas and was a devoted patron of the Campbell County Public Library system. “I lived just down the hill from the library, and I would walk down our drive. But then when it got a little difficult for me to walk, that’s when I got the walker – just to be able to go to the library! And they told me one day when I went in, ‘Jackie, you can actually get these sent to your home!’ Then, when I got ready to move into here, that was the first thing I asked: could I still have that service?” A Campbell County librarian was quick to get Jackie in touch with the Homebound department at Kenton County.
Homebound (a part of the now combined Outreach Department) delivers items to the residents of Highland Crossing every other Monday. Each and every time we bring a bag full of the newest biographies and memoirs for Jackie. We have it written in her record that we are never to bring fewer than four books for her. Living her life as she does now – mostly indoors and with limited mobility – the books we bring to her are her windows to the world. Her friends and family members know how much she loves to read and constantly keep her up to date on the newest books – that’s how she always seems to be ahead of the crowd in making her requests for new materials. Even though she doesn’t use a computer, she still has almost constant access to information about the latest books being published. “My daughter-in-law sends me articles from The Philadelphia Enquirer. She sends me ripped out pages from magazines with book reviews, and people are always telling me about new names and reviews of things I should read. I get that New York one, too. My son sends me The New York Observer…”
Even as we talked during our interview, she began shuffling through the papers on her side table and then stopped to hand me the most recent compilation of reviews and notes she had set aside for her librarians’ next visit.
When I asked her to describe what the Homebound services meant for her and how it improved her daily life, she didn’t even have to stop to think about it: “It’s a life saver to me – to be in a place like this and have your services. Activities….well, I’m just not into. But your service! It’s wonderful, in all sincerity. There’s no bull about it. Like I say, it’s my life saver.”
The activities Jackie mentioned during our chat are another facet of the KCPL Outreach Department. Although she is less social and doesn’t take advantage of library outreach programming, many of our other patrons look forward to the mornings when we come by to help trigger memories and share life experiences. At some senior centers we do trivia challenges, a proven technique for improving and maintaining brain function in older adults. “Trivia games provide mental stimulation, an important component to mental and cognitive health in aging minds. Regular mental stimulation can actually delay the onset of diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, which impair cognitive functioning. Trivia games require memory and stimulate the pathways through the cerebral cortex required to link the question to the image or to the answer.” (Taken from an article by Cheryl Cirelli – http://seniors.lovetoknow.com/Trivia_Games_for_the_Elderly ).
We often try to incorporate local interest into our programming, and we are constantly working on new ideas for future programs. Recently we began developing visual-storytelling programs by adapting illustrated books into slideshows. As slideshows, we are able to project the illustrations in a large format as we read the corresponding story aloud. The first story we used for this idea was “A Cincinnati Night Before Christmas”, a children’s book written by Nadine Woodard Huffman and illustrated by Marilyn M. Lebhar. The story is about Matty, a young boy staying with his grandparents in Cincinnati at Christmas, and the readers are exposed to all of the wonderful traditions of Cincinnati during the holidays. After hearing the story and seeing the illustrations, the residents at Covington Ladies’ Home spent nearly 30 minutes talking and reminiscing about their own family traditions during Christmas in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
Renee Moore, Director of Recreational Therapy at Providence Pavilion in Covington speaks very highly of the programming her residents have been enjoying twice a month for just over two years. The audience may vary from 8 to 20 participants each time, but as Renee says, “they always leave knowing something new, and they talk about it all day!” Renee’s favorite program in the past year happened over the summer. Outreach Coordinator Kari Jones presented a slideshow all about ice cream for National Ice Cream Month. Reflecting on the program, Renee told me how Kari talked with the residents, and “they all went back to their childhoods.”
Aside from the entertainment factor that many of our programs provide, Renee believes that outreach programming is an invaluable part of our service. “It is important, because our residents learn about different things, or even go back in time. We as activity directors may miss something, but the outreach programmers don’t. For example, the ice cream presentation. Yes, I knew it was National Ice Cream Month, so I was serving ice cream every Friday. But I never thought about the history of it, or of asking the residents about it.”
Between our work delivering library materials to individuals and offering chances to reminisce or learn new things, the KCPL Outreach Department does everything possible to make sure the needs of our patrons are being met across the county. Find out more about the Homebound services and Outreach Programming by calling 859.962.4062 or visiting https://www.kentonlibrary.org/outreach/homebound.
Ashlee Brown, Homebound Services Associate, wrote this post.