WESTFIELD, NJ — For some a book is a free trip to far away lands, mystical voyages or even alternate realities. To embark on a literary journey one can simply visit their local public library.
But what if some readers cannot make the trip to the library? Do their hopes for lettered adventures simply vanish? Is free reading a luxury that they can no longer acquire?
Thanks to the Friends of the Westfield Memorial Library, as well as the library’s staff, Westfield residents who have any type of disability that prevents them from being able to go to the library themselves can have books as well as CDs, DVDs, audiobooks and magazines brought to their homes through the Books on Wheels program.
“We deliver to them any item a patron coming into the library would want,” said Jen Schulze, head of Adult Services at the Westfield Memorial Library.
Interested residents can contact the library and a reference librarian will pick out material according to the individual’s preferences.
“We tailor to what they like,” said Schulze.
Currently at about 30 strong, volunteers with the Friends of the Westfield Memorial Library personally deliver the materials to people’s homes. There is no need for checkout slips or official due dates that can lead to late fines. These library materials can stay out for up to four weeks and deliveries as well as pick-ups are made every other Friday.
The program was established in 1978. Coordinator David Machlowitz started out with the program as many do, as a volunteer who delivered books and other materials, when he felt an emotional connection with the patrons.
“I enjoy seeing the smiles of the recipients when making deliveries. They are avid readers and eagerly look forward to our renewing their supply of books,” said Machlowitz. “I was especially touched when the family of one of our clients designated the program for memorial donations in her honor.”
There is no restriction or discrimination to what materials patrons can obtain as long as the library has it or can get it as an inter-library loan.
“I once joked that our motto is ‘Whether its Shakespeare or Fifty Shades of Grey, just give us a call and we're on our way,’" said Machlowitz.
To receive Books on Wheels or join the volunteering team, call Schulze at 908-789-4090, extension 7951.