Fairfield's libraries really deliver: books, that is
It was a cold day, but it wasn't raining or snowing, and for that Donna Woods Orazio was grateful as she and Lauren DeNisco, the homebound services coordinator at the Fairfield Public Library, loaded bags of books into Orazio's car on a recent Friday morning.
Orazio has been volunteering for about two years delivering books, magazines, CDs and audio books to patrons who can't make it to the library because they are temporarily or permanently homebound. The one Friday a month that she makes deliveries, she said, it usually is raining, or as has been the case recently, snowing.
"This is something different," Orazio said of the blue skies overhead. "We've had to reschedule several times, but it's absolutely worth it. They are very happy to see us coming."
Patrons can check out up to 10 items per delivery, and the materials are delivered and picked up once a month, for no charge. There are also no late fines if a patron wants to keep a book a little longer.
Vivian Conwell has been using the delivery service for about seven years. An avid reader, Conwell said she would be lost without it.
Before she became homebound, Conwell said she and a friend would hit local tag sales, loading up on used books. When she could no longer drive, "I said, `What am I going to do for books? First I called the Pequot Library, but no luck. I called the Fairfield Library and thank god, amen. They've been wonderful."
Conwell said she's never been let down by the books she's received. "I'd be completely lost without it," she said. "I saw those Kindle books, they look wonderful, but I have to be holding a book under my arm when I go up to bed."
Orazio said she gets to know the readers on her route and often stops to chat with them.
"You develop a relationship with some of them," she said. "And we do worry about them and care about them." The delivery service has been going on for decades, DeNisco said. "So long that nobody remembers when it started," she said. "It's a quiet little thing."
A resident has to be homebound for at least three months to qualify for the service and the town is split between the main Fairfield Public Library downtown and the Fairfield Woods Branch Library. In addition to individuals, the duo makes deliveries to area nursing homes.
On this recent Friday, Orazio planned to make about 15 stops, which will take about three hours, she said.
DeNisco might pick out a book that a patron has specifically requested. "Many of my people say, `I just want three books a month' and I talk to them and learn, OK, she really enjoyed this one or he likes the historical novel."
Some may need large-type books while others only want books on CDs, she said.
"Occasionally, they will say I want `The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,' and if it's a really popular book, they go on the waiting list just like anyone else," DeNisco said. "Mostly they say, `Just pick some.' "
Orazio said she learned of the program and the need for a new volunteer through Friends of the Fairfield Public Library, of which she is a member. "The calls go out for different volunteer things as they come up," she said. When this opportunity opened up, Orazio said, "I had the time, I like to read, and it just kind of fit together."
The homebound delivery service is one of the things that make the town's library system so community-oriented, Orazio said. "There's so much more to being a library than just the books and programs that you see," she said. "This is one of the behind-the-scenes things."
To sign up for the delivery service, call DeNisco at 203-256-3160.