A version of the following story originally appeared in the spring 2016 edition of The Storyline, the library's quarterly publication that connects readers with people, places, and possibilities.
'I couldn’t exist without library books'
At each stage in her life, Roselyn Gieschen has found a niche at the library. It’s where she took her children to develop their love for books, where she’s enjoyed exhibits by local artists, and where she found books to fuel a quilting hobby.
“You could just stay in the library forever because there’s so much to learn,” she said.
Since Gieschen stopped driving, her visits to the Main Library have grown rarer. But thanks to the library’s Home Delivery Service, this former schoolteacher and Oak Park resident since 1957 remains an avid library user.
“I couldn’t exist without library books,” she said. “They take me to whatever environment the book is set in, and I get to live in that part of the world for a while.”
Gieschen’s home is just one stop on the route that longtime library volunteers Bill Crozier and Donna Bobco (also a library employee in Materials Services) drive every Friday.
Working as a team to meet community needs
They work as a team—one driving, the other lugging bags of books, DVDs, and magazines between the car's trunk and patrons’ front doors. And while they make deliveries to Oak Park’s north side residents, another two volunteers tackle the south side route.
Most often, new bags are exchanged for old ones at patrons’ front doors. But at Gieschen’s building one Friday in December, they delivered the items in person. After a warm welcome and offers of just-baked peanut brittle, Gieschen opened her bag and pulled out a hardcover book: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. “I’ve been waiting for this one!” she said.
Getting great recommendations
Gieschen said that while she had been waiting for the novel to arrive, which her book club was set to discuss the following week, a library assistant gave her a book of Doerr’s short stories to read in the meantime.
“So I got a flavor of what the author is like,” Gieschen said. “The suggestion was wonderful.”
That library assistant was Ben Iglar-Mobley, who runs Home Delivery. He said while some participants request specific titles, others describe authors or genres they enjoy, and staff and volunteers take it from there.
Each week, about 150 items—mostly print books, but also audiobooks and DVDs—go out to about 50 people.
“Some participants describe it as a lifeline,” Iglar-Mobley said. “And the volunteers are really the ones who make the machine run. I cannot praise them enough.”