Home Library Service volunteers deliver the wonderful world of books to those who can’t get to a library.
Volunteers are a friendly face who can stop by once every three weeks to bring customers some new books or CDs and spend some time to share their own stories.
The Home Library Service is run by Oxfordshire Libraries but would not be possible without the support of volunteers.
When you apply to be a volunteer, select Home Library Service volunteer within the application form.
Why is it important?
Could you deliver books to someone like Edna?
Edna: I mean life without a book is baron, it really is. When you get old, you’ve not been warned about it. You don’t realise how lonely you can be and you’re glad to see a face that makes contact with you. It means everything, really. I’m fortunate because I’ve got a family but the books are always there.
What’s the most important thing Home Library Service volunteers can do?
Edna: It’s about making contact with them, and be prepared to spend a little bit of time with them. Listen to them – I think that’s most important too, just to make sure you engage with people.’
Volunteer for the Home Library Service today at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/homelibrary
Being able to immerse yourself in the wonderful world of books is not as easy visiting your local library for many people. The Home Library Service supports those who are ill, elderly and cannot get to a library, by delivering books or other library materials direct to their door.
It brings entertainment, pleasure and human contact to people, where they may otherwise have little or none.
By volunteering you will make a positive difference to the lives of people in your community who need a bit of extra help.
Here are some examples of what the Home Library Service means to users and volunteers:
Gracie, 76, Faringdon – volunteer
‘I sat down and imagined how I’d feel if I was totally housebound. I know the importance of having literature and company in my life now I’m living alone, so I thought it’s important to reach out to others who may not have much contact with the outside world.
‘It’s fulfilling and very rewarding. The ladies I deliver to are keen to chat and talk about the authors and the plots.’
Margaret, 85, Sibford Ferris – service user
‘I really value the service, it means a lot because I have a husband who is permanently bedridden and cannot move at all.
‘I spend a lot of time reading to him and one of the good things about the Home Library Service is that I can have a constant supply of books. Both of us benefit from one visit from the Home Library Service.’
Edna, 88, Banbury – service user
‘The Home Library Service means a lot to me, it’s a real lifeline. Having reached this age of 88, I hadn’t realised how alone you are.'
‘It makes me appreciate the Home Library Service more than ever.’
- to work alongside library staff and other volunteers by taking books, audio books and DVDs to customers in their homes and care homes
- to liaise with the customer, develop an understanding of their reading tastes, and share an enthusiasm for books and reading
- to support independent living, reduce isolation and ill health
- choosing books, audio books and DVDs from the library and delivering them to customers in their homes or care homes; collecting the materials they have read and returning them to the library
- arranging a visiting schedule with the customer, visits should be every 3 weeks in line with the library service loan period
- finding out about the customer’s reading preferences and trying to meet them, taking advice from library staff where necessary
- finding and requesting books and other materials that your customer asks for using the online library catalogue
- receiving post or email request and overdue notifications relating to your customers’ library accounts
- talking to customers in the capacity of a ‘good neighbour’, linking with local support networks and other county council services which could be helpful
Skills and abilities needed
- an ability to relate to all people in a warm and friendly manner
- a love of reading and the ability to share an enthusiasm for books
- an awareness of the needs of vulnerable people
- a reasonable level of fitness
- an ability to use the internet to access the online library catalogue
- to be willing and able to travel
You can decide how many customers you want to visit, and the distance you travel but we ask that you consider a minimum of three customers.
You will need a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check before home visits. This will be arranged by us.
Training and support
You will be supported by the Library Managers at your pick-up library. This support includes taking responsibility for your wellbeing and overseeing your expenses. You are encouraged to have regular contact with your Library Manager to talk about what is going well and any concerns you may have.
- You will receive induction training. We will refund your travel expenses for any induction or refresher training outside the library
- As a member of the library team you will have access to staff facilities
- You will be provided with a photo ID badge
- Regular contact with library staff will ensure that things are going well
Repayment of expenses
- Bus fares or a mileage allowance from the pick-up library to your customers’ homes and back can be claimed.
- Mileage will be paid at the same rate as that paid to county council staff (currently 45p per mile) if supported by a VAT receipt for fuel. Bus tickets should be attached to the claim form for the refund of bus fares. Claims should be submitted regularly to the Library Manager. Payment can be made direct to your bank account.
Responsibilities and training
Please see our Library Volunteer Charter (pdf format, 155KB), which sets out what you can expect and what your responsibilities are as a library volunteer. Training and support will be provided.
How to apply
We appreciate the support volunteers provide. If you are interested in applying, please fill in the online application form.
Select the library you would like to apply to:
Under 16s are required to provide evidence of parental consent (pdf format 23 KB) to their volunteering.