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Books to Go

Cobb County Public Library

Innovation Leader: Helen Poyer, Director, Cobb County Public Library System, Helen.poyer@cobbcounty.org

Problem Statement

The 2006 census reported that 8% of Cobb County’s (Georgia) population was over 65 years of age. Twenty-six percent reported having some type of disability. Cobb County’s Senior Services Department noted in their long-range plan that the senior population was the fastest growing group. It is predicted that the senior population will grow by 10% in the coming years. The Cobb County Public Library System must look at ways to reach this population. To date, the library system has not had the resources –funds and staff- to provide outreach services to this underserved population. The library system recognizes that barriers, such as age, disabilities, language, and geographic, result in many people not having equitable access to programs and services available at one of the 17 libraries. Developing a partnership with Cobb Senior Services would enable the library system and Senior Services to meet their goals, missions and visions to enhance the quality of life for the elderly population.

Innovation

Books-to-Go is a library outreach program that provides library service to a segment of Cobb County’s population that is homebound, elderly or disabled and participates in the Cobb County Senior Services Meals on Wheels, a program of volunteers who deliver approximately 200 meals, five days a week. This partnership with Cobb County Senior Services will enable the library to reach this underserved and growing population by expanding the services provided by Meals on Wheels. Utilizing the Meals on Wheels volunteers, the library system will save over $200,000.00 in staff pay.

Progress

This partnership between two County departments – library system and Senior Services- is a positive image in the community and in County government. It demonstrates the ability of two government agencies providing essential service with limited funding. The community, especially during these difficult economic times, see two agencies working together to meet nutritional, recreational and informational needs and demands of this special population. This partnership breaks down barriers between two agencies by each gaining a better understanding and appreciation for the tireless work, dedication and commitment each have for serving the public. Most importantly, it makes library service accessible to those who cannot easily visit a library. The Canadian Council on Learning said, “You don’t stop learning when you grow old. You grow old when you stop learning.” The Books to Go program offers an opportunity for participants in the Meals on Wheels program to enjoy the benefits of library service from the comfort of their homes.