“The first question is always – what does it cost? It’s free,” said Mo Dixon, a Community Library Service officer.
Dixon is talking about Hackney Home Visit Library Service – a scheme that lends around 12,750 books a year to over 700 people aged between nine and 102 on a daily basis, to individuals, residential homes, day centres, nurseries and hospitals.
Numa, a home library service user, shared her feeling of how this service embodies the essence of what libraries can do for their communities: “It’s lovely having the librarians to visit and have a chat about the books.”
She continued: “I particularly appreciated their support when my daughter died at age 50. I was very crushed up about this. They looked out for me and brought me suitable books that were really helpful.”
The books are delivered by a devoted team to a variety of people. They don’t only deliver books, but also link residents up with social services, befriending charities, and health services.
“My job is to befriend and support people who are visually impaired, I visit 52 people and have about 30 on my waiting list,” said Dominic, a charity partner who works for the library several years.
“I support service users with things like isolation and the fact that they can’t read anymore, and the frustrations of that.”
Hackney home library service is well developed compared to other similar set-ups and supported by council departments and charities – even in the face of unprecedented funding cuts.
It aims to share seven decades of learning and bring together people and community groups from around the UK, the first-ever national home visit library conference was hosted last week in Hackney.
The first-ever national home visit library conference was hosted this month in Hackney as their service celebrated its 70th birthday.
Its aim was to share seven decades of learning and bring together people and community groups from around the UK. The conference looked in detail at how the service works to promote the home library service to those suffering from loneliness, dementia and disability. The conference also talked about the importance of creating a supportive community of council departments, charities, advocates and household residents to the benefit of all.
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney, said: “As we face growing challenges such as dementia, social isolation, the digital divide and other issues associated with an ageing population, provision like the Community Library Service becomes ever more important to the resilience of our borough and the wellbeing of our residents.
“The delight and happiness that can come from a friendly face bringing the joy of reading can often be overlooked, but that is at the heart of what we do and a vital frontline service for so many.”