Beyond the Dewey Decimal System

Local libraries provide seniors with more than books

By Alison Rooney

Staff at Butterfield Library recently used social media to reach out to the public, asking them to inform local seniors who might not be aware, of the many library services available to them. A personalized service includes home delivery of books to residents who are unable to venture to the library.

This service is open to all Philipstown residents who hold either a Butterfield or Desmond-Fish library card. All it takes is a phone call or an email message requesting either a specific volume, or, for those without something specific in mind, a genre which appeals. Library staff members offer selections, while deliveries are made by volunteers from the community (Butterfield Library Director Gillian Thorpe’s dad, Tom Robertson, is among them). There is no charge for delivery service.

Butterfield Library

Butterfield Library

Other amenities of possible interest to seniors are available at both libraries. According to Butterfield Director of Programming Maureen McGrath, “we have a whole variety of ways you can access books if you can’t see well enough to read. We’ve got audio books, books on CDs, downloadable books and access to websites which feature ‘talking books’ online.”

To utilize these, some of which may not be familiar to all, anyone can come in to learn; simply call ahead with the request, and a library staff member will set up an appointment time for the one-to-one instruction.

In addition the library’s e-readers are available for loan, and there are multiple types on hand. This allows the borrower to sample and check out what might work best for them. In the future it may be possible to borrow a laptop computer as well. Both libraries also offer the more traditional form of large print books, found in special sections.

As libraries offer more than “just books” to all their patrons, there are a number of activities targeted to or inclusive of seniors at both libraries. At Butterfield Tai Chi/Qi Gong classes have just begun. These once-a-week sessions are conducted by Barbara Perkins, and will be held on Dec. 19, Jan. 2, 9, 16, 23, 31 and offer “improved balance and mental focus” in the form of gentle, flowing balance exercises.

For those needing assistance navigating through the Affordable Care Act registrations and questions, help, in the form of Lourdes Seip, who is under the auspices of the Putnam Community Action Program, is on hand. Residents may phone her at 845-278-8021, ext. 23, to set up a library appointment. Tax help programs for early next year are also being coordinated. Check with library staff for more details as they become available.

Then there are the affinity groups and programs, which meet at the library. At Butterfield the Highland Garden Club meets every third Tuesday of the month and welcomes new members; and the Butterfield Book Group, which has members of all ages, meets one Monday evening each month (there isn’t a set pattern), and the library orders a copy of the chosen book for each member. Contact Jane D’Emic at the library for more details.

Desmond-Fish Library

Desmond-Fish Library

Silent films are screened once a month as well, and there are always ongoing art exhibits and occasional readings and theatrical events, such as the performance of The Extremists, a political satire presented by TrueNorth Theatre Company, which was cancelled due to a winter storm but will be rescheduled. Butterfield also has access to Ancestry.com available to any Philipstown resident, and maintains access to other databases with historic newspaper records.

At Desmond-Fish, many seniors partake of amenities open to all, including the audio book collection, the loan of e-readers (which, as Desmond-Fish Cybrarian Pam McCluskey points out, have the ability to turn every book into a large print edition because users can set whatever font they prefer), and computer instruction. They also recently received a sizeable donation from the estate of Rachel Berry to be used toward the large print collection.

Designated computer advice sessions take place on Fridays and Sundays from 2 to 3 p.m. and basic help is available beyond those hours. There is currently no book delivery service offered by Desmond-Fish. There is a knitting circle, and a number of (non-library sponsored) book groups.

Desmond-Fish’s Interim Director, Jen McCreery, says that the library “tries to cater our collection to varying needs in the community, which means people of all ages. After all, you want to be a reader your whole life. We’re also always looking for volunteers and we can use people’s expertise and apply it to various areas here.”

Both libraries serve as hubs during times of power outages, offering first and foremost a warm place to spend time indoors, and also Wi-Fi, and a supply of coffee for all who wish it.

If you lack a library card, it’s a simple online process. Or call the library and an application will be mailed to you, or stop by with appropriate information showing your residence and it can be done on the spot. Visit desmondfishlibrary.org and butterfieldlibrary.org.


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