Arts and Entertainment

Off the Shelf: Volunteers bring the library home

When Rosie von Engel broke her foot in February 2011, she had doctor’s orders to treat her foot like a Fabergé egg, very gently. She had to keep it elevated throughout the healing process that took nearly five months. Rosie’s 90-year-old mother, Arlene Engel, took care of her during the recovery.


With a phone call to the North Olympic Library System, Rosie was able to sign up for regular home delivery of books and DVDs while she was homebound. Twice a month, she received a home visit from a library volunteer who dropped off books and DVDs to help pass the time while Rosie’s foot healed.


Rosie would call to request specific titles and Outreach Program staff also were on the lookout for titles they thought she might enjoy. More than a year later, Rosie remembers some of the books library staff selected for her that she enjoyed reading including "Moby Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them" by Donovan Hohn and "The Golden Spruce" by John Vaillant. She’s now recommending them to friends.


Rosie’s foot has healed and she’s out and about in the community and again able to visit the library herself. Sadly, Rosie’s mother, Arlene, died in December. Rosie reflected, “The Outreach Program will have a place in my memory of a time I will always treasure … an unexpected return to childhood with a good book, a good mother and a good library to care for me.”


The Library Outreach Program provides free delivery and pickup of library materials for individuals who have difficulty coming to the library due to age, illness or disability. This service is available to people living in their own homes, retirement communities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Library Outreach deliveries are available on a long-term or short-term basis. Participants can request specific titles or have library staff make selections based on reading preferences. Books, including large print books, audiobooks on CD, DVDs, music CDs, magazines and e-books are all available for outreach delivery and the library catalog always is available to search at


Outreach Program staff also can offer assistance in signing up for services from the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL), which offers a free library service for those who are visually impaired or cannot read regular print material. WTBBL provides an adaptive audio player for listening to digital audiobooks. WTBBL materials are delivered by mail.


The library Outreach Program currently delivers to more than 130 people who are homebound in the Sequim and Port Angeles area. Library volunteers bring a bag of new library materials twice a month and exchange it for the bag of items being returned.


For more information, to volunteer or to sign up for this free service, contact the NOLS Outreach Program at 417-8503 or


Emily Sly is an NOLS volunteer and Outreach Program coordinator.
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