There’s nothing quite like cozying up with a good book on a cold winter’s day, and thanks to a program through the Newton Public Library, a great read is always within reach regardless of an individual’s ability get to the library themselves.
ENLITE is a book delivery program that provides Newton and North Newton seniors with access to a wide array of Newton Public Library materials including its extensive large-print collection, featuring everything from westerns and romance novels to Christian fiction and biographies.
For more than 10 years, Renee Lewis has been involved in the program, first as a volunteer and now as a part-time employee. Renee, along with ENLITE volunteer Karen Monroe, visits Newton Presbyterian Manor on the second Monday of every month with bags of books—some specifically requested by residents and others that are hand-chosen by Renee based on a resident’s individual tastes. While the selections vary in nature, Renee does notice trends within the reading habits of those she serves.
“The majority of my patrons like Christian fiction and light fiction,” said Renee. “They like things that don’t take a lot of concentration or have a complicated plot—something to keep ahold of the storyline.”
Keeping books in the hands of our residents is no small task. In 2018, Renee and five volunteers from the Newton Public Library checked out 1,669 books to 50 Newton Presbyterian Manor residents!
While she’s at our community, Renee has the help of several dedicated volunteers including Sylvia Epp, Marilyn and Howard Schmidt and her own sister, Pat Ryan. Between all of them, they keep our library stocked with an eclectic collection of fiction and nonfiction books that can be checked out on the honor system – simply borrow a book and place it in the return basket when you’re through.
Regardless of physical toll and the time expenditure involved in the job, Renee says it’s all worthwhile.
“I’m happy to do the job and want people to be excited about reading because I’m excited about reading,” said Renee. “It’s also an easy way to engage people—talking about what they’re reading leads to stories about their life.”
In addition to visiting the area’s senior living communities, Renee will also deliver books to an individual’s home. To be eligible, a person has to be at least 60 years old, live in Newton or North Newton and have difficulty reaching the Newton Public Library. To learn more, or to sign up for the program, call the library at 316-283-2890 or contact them online.
If you have books you’d like to donate to our library on campus, contact Noelle Dickinson at 316-283-5400.
PHOTO: Evelyn Gardner is a volunteer in our library, reshelving returned books to our collection.