Community Papers

Library Lounge connecting seniors in Agassiz and beyond

Maurice Fernandez chooses a book from the mobile library service provided at the Glenwood Care Home in Agassiz, through the Fraser Valley Regional Library.   - Jessica Peters/ Observer
Maurice Fernandez chooses a book from the mobile library service provided at the Glenwood Care Home in Agassiz, through the Fraser Valley Regional Library.
— image credit: Jessica Peters/ Observer

Maurice Fernandez goes to the library almost every day. He looks through the shelves and pulls out the most intriguing  — usually in larger print — and sets out for an afternoon of reading.

But Fernandez doesn’t just read his library selections. He also takes great effort to transcribe the stories. It’s one way the former ad copy writer is working to recover from the effects of a major stroke.

While Fernandez is still just as lively inside as he ever was, the stroke has limited his movement and his ability to speak. But with a history of working in the publishing industry, communications is important to him and his intellect is still very much intact. The act of reading and transcribing books can improve his motor skills over time, and has.

Fernandez also gets around with the help of a wheelchair. So thankfully, the library he visits isn’t very far.

To get there, Fernandez just has to head down the hallways of his home at the Glenwood Care Centre in Agassiz. Tucked away in a quiet corner of the assisted living residence is a bright reading nook. The outer wall of the room is lined with windows facing the east, and Mt. Cheam. The opposite wall is lined with reading material, brought in by the Fraser Valley Regional Library through an outreach program called the Library Lounge, run by Earla Legault.

The ‘mobile library’ is there for all residents to use. There are no check-out procedures and no late fees. Legault brings in material that is timely, with a wide appeal to all levels and interests of readers. They range from picture books that illustrate places around the world, to novels about the Wild West. There are crafting and gardening books, romance novels, large print selections and non-fiction works.

Legault’s efforts are supported by Glenwood’s recreation coordinator, Judy Rietveld, along with a volunteer from the Friends of the Library. Each of the women know that reading isn't just about books. In the library area at Glenwood, residents can chat about what they've read, or use a book's subject matter to reflect on past hobbies.

For Vera Striker, that would be gardening. She always kept a beautiful garden at her Agassiz home, so Legault makes sure the Glenwood library stock has books illustrating gardens for Striker to enjoy.

The program is working exactly how it was intended to.

"Everytime I come down here, there is someone here," Rietveld says. "And when the boxes of new books come in, there are usually a couple of people waiting, excited."

The program isn't unique to Glenwood. Another Library Lounge is held at Cheam in Agassiz, although residents there are invited to a mobile library that visits once a week for about 45 minutes. It's meant to be a social time for residents to get together.

Similar Library Lounges are happening all over the Fraser Valley, organized by Legault and FVRL.

They are reaching out to thousands of seniors living in a variety of assisted living situations.

In addition to traditional books, Legault can bring out audio book services, including titles on mp3 format, or through the DAISY player, a machine that plays books for the visually impaired.

It's a perfect option for avid readers who are esxperiencing eye problems such as macular degeneration.

There are many things that seniors have to come to terms with giving up, Legault says. But the love of books is not among them.

To find out more about the Library Lounge or other outreach services, contact Legault at 604-859-7141 or call toll-free at 1-888-668-4141.

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