Vernon Area Library expands collections for older adults

  • Caregiver kits, available for checkout, include books, DVDs or CDs and activities like simple games or puzzles that help spark memories and conversation between seniors and family.

    Caregiver kits, available for checkout, include books, DVDs or CDs and activities like simple games or puzzles that help spark memories and conversation between seniors and family. Courtesy of the Vernon Area Public Library

Updated 12/2/2019 8:55 AM

A central function of the public library is promoting lifelong learning and enrichment to strengthen the community.

With baby boomers now in the ranks of the 55-plus population, Vernon Area Public Library has expanded its suite of services to deliver more offerings for older adults.


"Caregiver kits" are designed to spur conversation with elders who are experiencing memory loss and a large-type book club collection facilitates gatherings of senior readers.

The caregiver kits are bundles of books, DVDs or CDs and activities, like simple games or puzzles, that help spark memories and conversation between seniors and family, friends and other caregivers. Each kit contains materials on a theme, such as national parks, the seasons or pets.

The materials are an effective way to promote reminiscence therapy: recalling positive experiences to promote well-being. The library originally developed the kits to assist professionals at local memory care centers. Based on their positive reception, the library recently made the bundles available to all patrons for checkout.

The new large-type book club collection rounds up fiction and nonfiction selected with the older reader in mind and includes a variety of popular titles. Book club organizers can also take advantage of the library's concierge service: staff pulls together the number of copies needed, information about the author and discussion questions, and puts everything in a zippered bag for six-week checkout.

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These recently-introduced offerings add to long-standing services, such as homebound delivery, available to anyone living within the library district who is unable to visit in person due to disability, chronic illness or age. Books, movies and music are hand-selected for each patron based on their input and are delivered to their door every other week.

The library also partners with local retirement and assisted living facilities to provide a collection of materials for borrowing at each location, as well as a biweekly delivery of library materials to residents.

To give patrons broad access to materials, the Lincolnshire-based library makes a variety of formats available for checkout: more than 4,500 large-print books, including popular fiction, biographies and nonfiction; audiobooks on CD, all-in-one Playaway devices and digital downloads; and downloadable e-books that allow the reader to adjust type size and contrast on their device.

Each season, the library hosts a full roster of programs planned with older patrons in mind. These include lectures, book discussions and technology classes such as the popular Computers & Coffee series, which explores timely topics in a casual setting with plenty of time for hands-on help.


Monthly Senior Series events feature music performances and talks on cultural topics. This winter's events include a concert, Sounds of the Double Base featuring Alan Steiner, a musician in several Chicago-area orchestras, on Monday, Dec. 12.

Lunch & Learn programs also take place monthly and explore a variety of educational topics, such as a Dec. 9 lecture by photographer and architectural critic Lee Bey, author of the new book "Southern Exposure," highlighting architectural gems on Chicago's South Side.

Registrants are invited to bring their own lunch to hear the lecture. The library provides coffee and dessert.

Learn more about these services and programs at or contact the Adult Desk, (224) 543-1485.

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