The Coal City Public Library District was awarded an LSTA grant of $30,000 in order to develop senior services. We hired a Senior Services Librarian in order to carry out the duties of this project. After familiarizing herself with the resources, institutions, and services available to seniors in the area, the Senior Services Librarian was ready to hit the ground running!
Since the inception of this project we have been able to partner with many of these institutions in order to provide exceptional service to seniors. The Coal City Public Library District can now accept Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) applications and is now the only location within a 15 mile radius that accepts these applications. This has not only been a relief to seniors but other residents as well.
The Senior Services Librarian has worked with the local fire department in order to place a “Vial of Life” in the home of each community senior.
This program consists of placing a magnet on the refrigerator which indicates there is a vial of information in the refrigerator which contains all pertinent medical information. This program is utilized by police, fire, and emergency personnel in emergency situations. In addition, the library works with CellPhoneBank.com to recycle old cell phones into 911 phones for seniors. Collected phones are mailed in and CellPhoneBank.com returns cell phones that are designed to dial 911 in a case of emergency which are then distributed to seniors throughout the community. This has already made an impact on our community and has saved the life of at least one senior.
Programming kicked off with a monthly senior breakfast where the Senior Services Librarian introduced herself and took the opportunity to share with the seniors how the library could assist them as well as provide a forum in which seniors could share their ideas and needs. The local hospital provides blood pressure and diabetes screening every other month at the breakfast. Through an additional partnership with the local hospital, senior exercise classes are offered twice a week in the library’s meeting room. Seniors are invited to participate in line dancing twice a month in the library’s meeting room. This provides seniors with another form of ‘exercise’ but in a fun, social environment. A senior calendar is produced on a monthly basis in order to make seniors aware of what is going on at the library.
Seniors participated in entertainment and cultural bus trips. Trip destinations included: the Chicago Botanic Gardens, Navy Pier for a luncheon cruise aboard the Odyssey Cruise Line, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, and Drury Lane to see The Buddy Holly Story. A two-day AARP driving course was held which will provide seniors an opportunity to get a discount on their auto insurance.
The Coal City Public Library District was also the recipient of a digital LSTA grant entitled “World War II: From Homefront to Warfront.” In a partnership within the library, the Senior Services grant hired the Traces WWII Bus-eum to come to the library as the theme of the bus is “Behind Barbed Wire: Midwest POWs in Nazi Germany.” This provided an opportunity for seniors to visit the bus as well as those participants who were involved in the WWII grant.
In addition to programs, the Senior Services Librarian has helped seniors meet their informational needs. Working with the Senior Services Librarian, a patron was put in contact with the resources needed to obtain a motorized chair. She guided the patron to the correct resource, aided him in completing his paperwork, and followed up to make sure he had received his chair. The Senior Services Librarian also holds one-on-one computer classes and seniors love it. She helps each senior in areas they are struggling with. Be it using the mouse, attaching pictures to email, etc., she helps them learn at their own pace and in their own time.
Library materials were purchased for seniors and several displays were made utilizing these materials. Seniors enjoy having materials that meet their educational, informational, and entertainment needs. A permanent literature display now houses all relevant local, county, state, and library information relevant to seniors.