JANESVILLE—Vernice Stark has loved to read her entire life.
So when she lost vision to macular degeneration and was not longer able to read or write, she was devastated.
She had to stop driving eight years ago, quit reading the local newspaper two years ago and stopped using her computer last year.
But thanks to the home materials delivery program at Hedberg Public Library, the 95-year-old Janesville woman still can enjoy audio books on CD.
Volunteers Virgil and Kathy Parker select a variety of books on CD for Stark and deliver them to her east side Janesville home every month.
The Janesville couple have been volunteering to deliver materials for three years. On Tuesday, they took Stark a dozen offerings.
There were books by authors Sue Grafton, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Debbie Macomber and Michael Connelly.
“I'm open to anything,” Stark said as Virgil pulled one CD after another out of a bag and shared the titles and authors of each.
“'The Lady and the Panda: True Adventures of the First American Explorer to Bring Back China's Most Exotic Animal' is a totally random pick we thought you might like,” Virgil said.
Kathy keeps a list of book titles so she and Virgil don't pick titles Stark already knows.
“I take notes while we're here,” Kathy said.
Stark always looks forward to the Parker's visit.
“I love to get a new batch of books and visit with Kathy and Virgil,” she said.
What would she do without them?
“I'd probably lose my mind and would be bored silly,” Stark said.
Stark, a retired bookkeeper for the Milton School District, said she has family and friends close by who help out, but she doesn't want to depend on them to go to the library for her.
“They all have their own lives,” she said.
The Parkers are among 27 volunteers who deliver books to 31 homebound Janesville residents.
They began volunteering five years ago after Kathy retired from teaching and Virgil from nursing. They deliver books each month to three women.
“We enjoy Vernice. It's fun to talk to her and find out about her life,” Virgil said.
“She's so interesting,” Kathy added.
Maureen Birchfield, who coordinates the library's home delivery program, said she would welcome more drivers.
“I'm always in need of volunteers,” she said.
Between 50 and 100 books are delivered to eight nursing homes, senior apartments and assisted living facilities each month by volunteers, she said.
Without the volunteers, Birchfield said, the library could not offer the services it does.
“It's not feasible. It just wouldn't happen,” she said.
Birchfield is proud that library staff and volunteers have kept the home materials delivery program going for almost four decades.
“Next year will be the 40th anniversary of providing materials for those unable to get to the library,” she said.
To find out more about the Hedberg Public Library home materials delivery program, call 608-758-6592.
Hedberg Public Library offers the following volunteer opportunities:
-- Shelf reader—Maintain shelf order, check for damage or mislabels, straighten.
-- Materials delivery--Select, deliver and return materials to homebound patrons. Valid driver's license and insurance required. Computer and library collection knowledge helpful. Ability to successfully interact with people who are older or have disabilities.
-- Data entry--Enter data into online database one hour per week.
-- Mailing--Prepare documents for direct or bulk mail. Weekdays, three to four hours every two months. Use labels, seals, sometimes stamps.
-- Reference--Clip, label, copy, file and handle a variety of tasks as needed. May work with local history materials. One to three hours per week.
-- Public Information Office—Sort and file forms, distribute fliers and signs to local businesses weekdays up to four hours each month.
-- Interlibrary loan—Collect materials, pull paperwork, file and collate two hours a day up to two days a week.
-- Spanish interpreter—Interpret for Spanish-speaking patrons during library hours.
-- Bilingual Spanish event program volunteer-Greet guests, help with crafts, serve food up to four hours per event.
Volunteer applications can be obtained at the library's information desk or printed from the library's website at hedbergpubliclibrary.org/volunteer_at_hpl.html
If you have questions about volunteering at The Ground Floor, a coffee shop run by volunteers and operated by Friends of Hedberg Public Library in the lower level of the library, 316 S. Main St., call 608-758-6612, or e-mail [email protected].
The Teen Central volunteer program encourages teenagers to develop skills while helping the library. For more information about this program, call 608-758-6587.