Source: The Bergen Evening Record, Friday, May 23, 1958 

Bring Books To Shut-Ins

Two Volunteers Help Librarian Give Out Books

By Suzanne Messing

Miss Agnes C. NortonTeaneck -- In this township, when a resident can't go out in the world, the world is brought to him.  The delivery men are two volunteers from the Teaneck section, National Council of Jewish Women.  The world they bring is in books, borrowed from the Teaneck Public Library.

In March, the Library's service to shut-ins was one year old.  Since its beginning, volunteers on the job have been Mrs. Raffaele Lattes assisted by Mrs. Hyman Grober, both of Teaneck.

The project was born when members of the Council came to Miss Agnes Norton, Library director, to ask if the Library needed volunteers.  It did.  For years Miss Norton had wanted to launch a service to shut-ins.  She had first thought of it when two elderly neighbors, who could no longer go to the library themselves, asked her to bring them books.

In partnership with the Council, Miss Norton called on various agencies and individuals.  Three responded, the Bright Side Nursing Home, Charles Bernhard and Miss Doris Lorenzen all of this Township.

Love Stories

Miss Norton selected books and the volunteers set off.  The ladies at the Home, they learned, wanted romantic love stories, humor, and biographies of personalities they remembered.  One armchair traveler requested books on the Arctic.  Finding novels guest at the Home enjoyed was something of a difficulty.  Modern books were too realistic and the Library's collection of Kathleen Norris and Kay Boyle had dwindled from disuse.

What did getting books mean to the guests at the home?  As one wrote to Miss Norton, "Reading good books whiles away many a lonely hour."

Mr. Bernhard, in his 80s, wanted about 10 books every 2 weeks, largely on history, especially ancient Egyptian history.  When Mr. Bernhard read fiction, he usually liked it to be Mark Twain or O'Henry.  Occasionally he requested books in German especially by Klaus Groth, a humorist.

Before the service Mr. Bernhard who can't leave the house at all, had to rely on his own 1000-book collection.  What does he thing of the service, "It's O. K.," he says.

A New World

Miss Doris Lorenzen, in her 30s, was completely paralyzed by polio when she was child.  Miss Norton who had been bringing books to her personally, says of her, "Her horizons are broader than mine and she gets it all through reading."  Miss Lorenzen if fond of biographies and autobiographies.  "A passion of mine," she says, " is social work and books on those who have done important things in education."

"Before the service," Miss Lorenzen says, "I was one of those fortunate ones.  Friends brought books.  But the service has filled a great gap.  It means a great deal to me."

Just a baby now, the service, Miss Norton hopes, will spring into a vigorous adult.  She would like to extend it to persons laid up with a long term illness, such as a broken leg.  "But I wouldn't want to do it for lazy people, who could come to the library if they tried."  Miss Norton is also willing to lend records to any patient who would want them.

What about overdue books? "We don't worry about that," she says.  What aspect of the project does Miss Norton especially like?  Besides the pleasure it brings to people services, Miss Norton likes to point out that the Library's partnership with the Council is a fine example of cooperative community service.  It shows how much a partnership, between a municipal agency and a volunteer group, can yield a vital community service at no cost to the community.

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