Smartphones, streaming services and distribution apps are all about personalized experiences. It’s so personalized that you’ll wonder if your device knows what you’re thinking.
Derby Public Library has developed a more intentional personalization program in late 2022. It allows residents of nursing homes to enjoy individually selected content.
Pioneered by Megan Ball, the Personal Librarian Program was inspired by Ball visiting her late grandmother in a nursing home and seeing how people living with care could benefit from library services. was.
Ball has been involved in some form of senior outreach for about eight years. When she went to the American Library Association conference over the summer, that was where it really inspired her. was the goal.
Ball realized it was the ideal type of program he wanted to do and spoke with Eric Gustafson, director of the Derby Public Library. Ball collected bags with the program’s logo, completed questionnaires and contacted activity coordinators at care facilities around Derby. There was a lot of interest in this program. By October, Ball stopped working.
Ball began meeting with interested residents and building relationships with them. This was he one of the main goals of the program. She uses surveys to understand their interests. Ball then returns to the library, picks the item, and returns it to the resident. It’s not limited to books. Residents can get whatever the library has to offer.
As a one-man team, it took Ball some time to find the right fit for each resident. Ball relies on his colleagues to help him choose content in genres he’s unfamiliar with. Even with her learning curve, she needed to talk to patrons to get their insights.
“It took about a month or two before we knew exactly what they wanted,” Ball said. “Every time I went out, I asked them what titles they liked or didn’t like to find out what they really wanted.”
The ball currently serves 28 residents and interest is growing rapidly. At the moment, the personal librarian program is limited to inpatient facilities, but Ball hopes to expand it in the future.
Interests range from mysteries to Benjamin Franklin. The ball can find interesting content for each resident. One resident put on a show and used a sewing book Ball brought along to talk about her husband’s old tie.
Giving back to the Derby community in this way is a rewarding job for Ball. She said she can actually see sparks when residents start talking about their interests, so that distant memories are awakened. There was a rewarding aspect to Ball just having someone who would listen to his interests.
“Residents have told me several times how nice it is to have someone come out, talk about their interests, and bring items that were previously inaccessible,” Ball said. “I find it very rewarding just to sit at the table with them and talk and get to know them because it’s not just the book selection. It’s also the human connection.”