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New Grant Puts The Pedal To The Metal For ‘Words On Wheels’



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The Cyrenius H. Booth Library announces that it has been awarded a $1,000 grant from the Savings Bank of Danbury for its Words on Wheels program.

The program delivers books, films, and other materials directly to the doors of patrons who are unable to leave home, for any reason.

“We’re thrilled that this service has been recognized by the Savings Bank of Danbury,” said library director Douglas Lord. “This funding helps the library to fulfill its mission in serving all of Newtown, not just those who are mobile and able to get to our 25 Main Street location. If you’re not feeling well or if you can’t get out, we want to bring you books, films, puzzles, children’s materials, or whatever we have. There are many legitimate needs that the library fulfills for the community; this is just one,” said Lord.

While at the moment the community’s needs for this service are being met by the existing staff, the library fully expects demand to rise and the need to arrange for drivers. “Sort of like Uber for books,” said Lord.

According to Lord, Beth Ann Fetzer, vice president and community development officer of the Savings Bank of Danbury, aided the process in the library’s obtaining the grant.

“The Savings Bank of Danbury Foundation committee is proud to support Words On Wheels,” Fetzer told The Newtown Bee in a recent e-mail. “The C.H. Booth Library staff recognized a vital need in the community and developed and implemented a program that will help residents dealing with COVID restrictions. As a community bank, we are happy to fund this program for Newtown residents and applaud the library staff for their foresight and initiative.”

For home delivery, contact the library at 203-426-4533 or fill out a brief form at https://tinyurl.com/24ms68da.

The effort that this grant funds was also supported by the Woman’s Club of Newtown, which donated funds to provide bookmarks with library hours and contact information for both the library and the Woman’s Club.

The library’s assistant director Jennifer Nash added, “Part of being a turned-outward agency is really listening to what the community wants and needs and then providing that. A library delivery service is completely legitimate; we just need a tiny bit of seed funding to get it moving.”

“We issued 65 online library cards the month after the pandemic hit,” said head of circulation Anne Mastroianni. “Customers applied on our website and we e-mailed their barcode to them. With that library card came access to hundreds of thousands of digital and streaming titles as well as access to databases.”

As of March 2021, the library is open for 88% of its normal hours, and checkouts are hovering at the 90% of normal. “We’re having phenomenal statistics compared to many Connecticut libraries,” said Lord.

Lord also pointed to the $220M package of federal funding devoted to libraries nationwide. “That federal support recognizes those vital services, such as advancing digital inclusion and facilitating connectivity, that the library does every day.”

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