Iowa Library Service Areas

How Iowa Libraries Do
Homebound Services

Council Bluffs Public Library

Volunteers:  The first and foremost thing anyone will need to start a homebound program is several very willing and dependable volunteers to deliver the books.    Our volunteers use their own cars with no reimbursement.  Without volunteers it would be too expensive to administer a homebound program, if you have a budget like ours.  Our friends group is a good source for finding volunteers. 

Containers: We have used plastic and paper grocery bags for containers to deliver to our patrons.  We asked a department store to donate some of their big shopping bags and they gave us 200.  After about a year our Friends of the library donated enough cloth bags so that each patron has 2 bags, one to send out and leave and the next three weeks there is a bag to send those out.  The bags were purchased from The Cloth Bag Co.; they are just the size a paper grocery bag and have handles.

Record keeping:  We have 30-35 persons to whom we deliver.  I set up a database on Excel to keep track of the items checked out to each person.  Then I can use the find option and put in a title--then I can find if they have had the book or not. Before we had computers we used file cards and longs lists.  File cards will work for most people but there are those who take 20-25 books each time and then file cards become unmanageable.  I also made a form on the computer with all the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the patrons and the volunteers.  I keep track of how many books and cassettes for homebound statistics that are used in our spreadsheet every month.   I have a place to write how many items they get and also what they like in a shortened form.  That way I can take that list out with me to the stacks when I am gathering.  I gather the books and bag them up, ready for the volunteers every 3 weeks, which is our normal checkout period.  We also deliver to nursing homes.

Form for prospective homebound patrons.

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