Books By Mail caters to county’s homebound residents

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – Doris Ferguson loves to read, but the 81-year-old Montevallo resident isn’t physically able to make it to the library as much as she used to.

In lieu of the library, Ferguson bought books and swapped books with friends. A couple years ago, one of those friends suggested Ferguson sign up for a library program that sends books directly to her house.

Ferguson has used Books By Mail ever since. It’s a free outreach program provided to county residents by the Harrison Regional Library.

“It’s a wonderful service,” said Ferguson, who received two books by mail Sept. 20.

When she’s done reading the books, she mails them back to the library at no cost. The library then sends her more books.

Books By Mail is available for homebound residents who can’t come to the library because of age, illness or disability. About 50 people currently use the service.

When a person signs up for the program, a library representative interviews the person to find out what types of materials he or she likes. Reference materials, DVDs, cassette players and Braille books can all be shipped.

“Anything you can come to the library to get, I can put in that bag,” Becky Brasher said.

Brasher keeps files on each Books By Mail customer, taking notes on what each customer likes. She then selects materials accordingly.

There are no late fees. There is no limit to the number items a customer can borrow at one time.

“They look forward to that mailbag coming,” Brasher said.

Started in the mid-1950s by Mildred B. Harrison, the program is the state’s oldest continuously running books by mail program.

“It’s a very nice way to send books,” Ferguson said. “It’s a very nice service.”

The U.S. Postal Service does not charge the library to ship the books, said Kim Roberts, assistant director of the Harrison system.

For more information, call the library at 669-3910.