GENESEO – Books by Mail is a new service launched by Pioneer Library System to provide library materials to people who might have difficulty obtaining them in person.
The new service is available to any resident of Ontario, Wayne, Wyoming and Livingston counties who cannot access an OWWL library due to disability, chronic or long-term illness, d a lack of transport or other difficulties.
The Pioneer Library System oversees operations at 42 public libraries in four counties in Ontario, Wayne, Wyoming and Livingston. The 42 member libraries are referred to as OWWL libraries to represent the four counties they serve using the first letter of each of the participating counties.
The Pioneer Library System is supposed to “provide a wider range of materials and services than any community library could otherwise afford,” according to its website.
“The accessibility of resources and materials this service will bring to the community will greatly benefit many area members in ways that many local libraries were not able to do before,” said Erin Robinson. , director of the Arcade Free Library.
Suzanne Macaulay, Deputy Director of the Pioneer Library System, was the driving force behind the creation and implementation of the service at OWWL libraries.
“The pandemic has highlighted the challenges of isolation and accessibility for so many people,” Macaulay said.
Last year, the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library System launched a program called Libraries by Mail, serving patrons at 37 libraries and 1,043 square miles of land. Samantha Purpora, Buffalo Branch and Mobile Services Manager, helped Macaulay create Books by Mail, inspiring Macaulay to find a program that could serve Pioneer Library System customers in its 42 libraries and 2,500 square miles.
“Books by Mail will remove an access barrier by delivering documents directly to someone’s mailbox at no cost to the borrower,” Macaulay said. “Our outreach initiatives are focused on equity, inclusivity and belonging at OWWL libraries and this program is the next step towards those goals.”
Printed books, audiobooks and DVDs can all be sent to customers free of charge through this service. A client can request specific titles or have staff select materials based on their interests if they prefer. A maximum of six articles can be posted at one time, and articles can be checked for five weeks and renewed if desired. There are no late fees for Books by Mail customers.
Materials are mailed in a blue canvas bag via the US Postal Service. To return items, customers simply put them back in the bag and reverse the prepaid postage label, then mail it back.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to be the catalyst for such a program, it appears to be a program that will endure.
“I think that’s something people are asking for,” Debby Emerson, director of the Wadsworth Library told Geneseo. “We have libraries of all sizes in the Pioneer Library system, but many of us are very small. Many of them are even smaller than us and would not have been able to provide this kind of service on their own.
The Books by Mail service will be similar to a type of interlibrary loan where librarians fill out orders they receive from the program, then they will be sent to Books by Mail staff for distribution to eligible customers. Robinson explained that although the program is not run directly by librarians, they are happy and eager to bring something so accessible and innovative to everyone in the library system.
With Books by Mail, local public libraries will be able to reach more people than ever before and have a big impact on their communities, whatever their size, said Frank Sykes, Director of Livonia Public Library.
“I think with public libraries, that’s the core of what we do, isn’t it? Sykes said. “If we manage to help one person, then it’s a big impact. Because it has a big impact on that person’s life.
To register, users can complete and return an application to the Pioneer Library System. Applications are available online (owwl.org/booksbymail), at all 42 OWWL Library locations, can be requested by phone at (585) 394-8260 x119, or by email at [email protected] If a customer cannot complete a request, Books by Mail staff can assist by completing the form with the information provided over the phone.