As the year wraps up, we’re thinking about our homebound neighbors. It’s our pleasure to be able spend a little time delivering library materials every month to their homes or assisted-living facilities with the help of a team of 25 dedicated volunteers.
The Books for the Homebound program started in 1985 under a grant from the Tennessee State Library with help from the CAC Office on Aging. Since then, it’s become a regular offering of the Knox County Public Library and has served thousands of Knox County adults who are disabled, live by themselves and have no one available to bring materials to them.
Anna Leah Keene has overseen the program since joining the Reference Department in 2010 and considers it to be one of the most satisfying parts of her work as a reference librarian. “It is a pleasure to meet new patrons and know that we’ll be helping to keep them connected to the library’s wonderful collection of resources,” says Keene. “Our volunteers are an incredible asset. They make deliveries all across Knox County to our patrons. Without them, we would not be able to offer this service.”
A 1991 graduate of Halls High School, Keene received her master’s degree in information sciences from the University of Tennessee in 2008 and took the reins on the program a couple of years later. “We deliver to a small number of people, but the impact the program has on their lives can’t be understated. This may be the only human contact they have each month,” she says. “We typically serve 40-50 people each month.”
When Keene isn’t overseeing the Books for the Homebound Program, she is baking, going to Broadway shows at the Tennessee Theatre, or trying out good vegetarian dishes at downtown restaurants. And, of course, reading and petting her cats. Husband Ben is a recent retiree from SAIC. He may be coerced into volunteering to deliver books to the homebound soon.
Info on the Books for the Homebound program, call 865-215-8721 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Pom Claiborne is assistant director for marketing, communications and development for Knox County Public Library.