Once baby boomers reach retirement age, a greater emphasis is placed on scouring ads for discounts for restaurants, movies, pharmaceuticals and two-for-one purchases at supermarkets. Perhaps the best kept secret, however, is the Piqua Public Library, which caters to seniors through its popular outreach services program.
Located within the Fort Piqua Plaza at 116 W. High St., the library offers myriad freebies to seniors whether it include large print books, movies, music or in-house training programs for interests such as crafts or computers.
Library Director James Oda said the library is a welcoming haven for individuals of all ages. Patrons soon discover the facility is an ADA-accessible structure with ramps, automatic doors and elevators to facilitate easy movement from floor to floor. A lowered desk area within the circulation area as well as wide shelving in book areas provides ease and accessibility to those confined to wheelchairs.
“We offer a large collection of current large-print books and audio books,” said Oda, adding that fiction, science fiction, romance, mysteries and biographies remain the most popular choices among senior patrons.
Three books clubs entice patrons to get together for an informal discussion of popular books. “The get-togethers stimulate patrons to read, become intellectually challenged and just have fun,” Oda said.
The clubs are open to adults of all ages and limited to six to 15 individuals per group. “We even have a 94-year-old man who comes to one of the clubs periodically,” said Oda, noting that there are monthly morning clubs (third Thursday of the month) as well as a “brown bag” noon group (fourth Wednesday of month) and an evening get-together, which is being resurrected.
“Patrons are advised as to what book will be read several months in advance and 10-12 books (of their choice) are made available to them. Book clubbers, said Oda, select the genre of books to be read, such as classics or World War II novels. Tess Graves, technical services coordinator at the library, facilitates the discussions.
Seniors and truck drivers account for the large number of patrons who enjoy the vast collection of audio books. “Rather than go through 26 radio stations, it’s possible to listen to a story and get involved. These (audio books) have been around quite a while,” Oda explained.
For those individuals who are visually impaired, Oda said accommodations are made for magazines and books to be transmitted electronically through the Ohio Library for the Blind.
The library’s genealogy department generates “lots of use” by seniors who are retired and interested in their ancestry. Free internet service is available where patrons can access ancestry.com to trace their lineage as well as skim through microfilmed records of local newspapers. Oda said that periodically, a genealogy class will be offered by Sharon Watson, the library’s genealogy “guru.” In-depth assistance can be provided for patrons by contacting Watson between 1:30 and 5 p.m. the first Friday of the month.
Toward latter October or early November, patrons can attend free computer training classes on the library‘s second floor. An Americorp intern will be available to teach classes for one to five individuals between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8:30 pm. Laptops are furnished for use during the classes, noted Oda, adding that seniors can especially benefit from classes where they’ll be taught how to set up emails, passwords and Skype to communicate with their grandchildren. There are no fees involved; to sign up, simply contact the library.
Group meeting rooms are also available free of charge. Oda mentioned Bible classes, quilting groups and class reunion committees — big or small — can reserve a room by signing up in advance at the circulation desk. Library staff is equipped to set up audio-visual equipment if needed.
For those unable to get to the library, staff member Bruce Heckerman and volunteer Karen Jenkins routinely deliver library materials to housebound patrons as well as local nursing homes, care centers and senior housing. In 2014, the Piqua Public Library made 720 visits to 1,325 housebound patrons.
“For some (homebound) individuals, these visits provide sociability and an opportunity for an informal chat over a cup of tea,” Oda commented. Through staff interactions, friendships are formed.
Are there any charges for the above services?
“Nope,” replied Oda. “We only charge for (photo) copying.”
Now that’s a real bargain in today’s economy.
Sharon Semanie is a journalist and longtime Piqua resident. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.