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At Home service: expanding and promoting to an underserved population

Hennepin County Library
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Innovation Leader: Karen Levinson, Principle Office Specialist, klevinson@hclib.org

Problem Statement

While the senior demographic is the fastest growing in Minnesota, library services to this group can prove difficult. Many are homebound or residing in senior residences, such as nursing homes. They are life-long library users who now face a barrier to library use. HCL’s At Home by Mail and At Home by Volunteer programs can serve these seniors, yet another barrier exists: communicating with these customers. Common tactics for promoting library services, such as posters in the library, program guides and other materials, were not effective as these residents do not visit libraries. Online tactics were not effective as many do not have Internet access. How to reach then serve the hard to reach?

Innovation

To reach this under-served population, a plan was developed which involved partnerships with organizations such as Meal on Wheels, print media, and in-person outreach into the senior serving community. The first objective was to increase awareness, which would result in increased enrollment, circulation of library materials, and information requests. A related objective was to increase awareness among staff, administration and stakeholders, resulting in increased support. A final objective was to survey current At Home customers to gather quantitative and qualitative data on value of the program.

Progress

The program met output objectives (below) while surveys returned comments about value of the program such as ““I would be lost without this service. It keeps me interested in life.”

2008 2010 %  
19987 23201 16% Circulation among At Home by Mail customers
4048 11128 175% Circulation among At Home by Volunteer customers
11029 11468 4% Information requests by At Home by Mail customers
375 660 76% Information requests by At Home by Volunteer customers
597 712 19% Number of At Home by Mail customers
61 125 95% Number of At Home by Volunteer customers