Today’s guest post is from one of the NNLM PNR Mini Outreach awardees. Pam Thompson, Branch Manager of the Calispel Valley Library, in Cusick, Washington, reports about their project where Kindles were purchased and loaded with books and information on relevant health topics to their community.
Our Mini Outreach award was entitled; Health Topics on Kindles. We purchased three Kindles, with pre-loaded titles each one featuring a different topic. Fruits and Vegetables and Alzheimer’s disease and titles from the NNLM Book Club were the three subjects we chose.
To get the word out about the availability of these Kindles, we planned two programs, one on site at the library and one off site. We also had articles in the paper and a feature on our web page and Facebook. The library displayed flyers at all of the branches, as well as the local post offices, hospital and medical clinic.
On May 1, 2019 we had our onsite library program. Health Day at the Library was staffed by two library staff members and a staff member from the SNAP – Ed, a nutrition awareness service. We had several stations set up for patrons to circulate. A Virtual Reality machine on loan from the State Library was loaded with a program on the human body and was put in use by the participants. The SNAP-ED staff brought healthy snacks and also led people in chair yoga exercises. Our 3D machine was on display, demonstrating its use. We also had a digital microscope hooked up to a laptop and people could experiment with this. We handed out book bags and brochures and exhibited the use of the Kindles. One benefit of the program was a new collaboration with SNAP-ED and we were able to continue our partnership in a later program we had in the spring. We had over 20 visitors which is about 10 percent of the town’s population.
The second program, on May 7th was a visit to the local food bank. Our partner was the Senior Citizen Specialist from our local Rural Resources agency. We had tables set up outside the building of the food bank and had our program a half hour before the food bank officially opened. This was in order that people could peruse the information and talk to us without the distraction of trying to get their food supplies at the same time. Book bags, brochures and information about health coverage was handed out, the Kindles were exhibited, and I talked about the program, the grant, and resources available through our library. Our partner had a great deal of information about health programs and resources available through Rural Resources. Literally every person that visited the food bank that day also visited our table.
The Rural Resources specialist and I made plans to continue this outreach program several times a year. Moreover, we collaborated on a program that is taking place this summer at the library, a Tai Ji Quan class for balance, targeting senior citizens and those who have problems with mobility.
My recommendations for anyone who would be interested in having health topics available on Kindles is to be sure you are in an area where there is interest in having E-readers. Also to consider is how to display the Kindles. This means not only the packaging, but also where you are going to house them in the library. Since the Kindles are expensive, it is not something that can be far from the watchful eye of a staff member.
One idea is to make an empty dummy of the Kindle, with bright colors and shelve it along with other books on the subject. When patrons bring up the dummy, we would then be able to procure the actual Kindle for check out. So far our circulation of the Kindles has only reached eleven check outs, but we expect that to increase as we move the devices for circulation among our other branches and experiment with displaying it with the books as previously described.
Overall the Health Topics on Kindles grant has been a great experience. It has made opportunities available to have health programs in the library and off site. It has brought us valuable partners in the community with common goals and has furthered one of our district’s missions, to promote healthy communities. With a little bit of tweaking, the use of the Kindles will gain traction and I’m grateful to the National Network of Libraries of Medicine for making this project possible.