Many people go about doing good deeds in their families, neighborhoods, organizations and church congregations. “Utah Valley’s Everyday Heroes” celebrates these unsung community members and brings to light their quiet contributions.
The students at Slate Canyon Youth Center know that the rolling tote on wheels means there’ll be a fresh stash of books in their library.
“They look forward to it,” said Rikki Carter, adult and teen services librarian at the Provo City Library. “We look forward to it, too.”
Many of the rotating books inside the Slate Canyon School — a part of the youth detention facility — are courtesy of the Provo City Library Homebound Outreach Service, a program that provides library materials to those who aren’t able to make it to the library on their own.
The program started several years ago after librarians spotted a need within the community. The library can deliver books, magazines, DVDs, CDs and audiobooks to those who are library-card-holding Provo residents and who are homebound due to age or long-term illness, injury or disability.
Not counting the Slate Canyon School students, there’s about 14 people in the program, most of them elderly. Carter said that number fluctuates, and there is no attendance cap.
Patrons can request the books a few days in advance. Librarians will come to pick up old books and drop off the new ones about once a month.
Carter said the librarians become friends with the homebound patrons they visit, and will sit and chat with them during dropoffs. One woman even gives the librarians fruit as a thank-you.
“I feel like for a lot of the patrons, it is a bright spot in their month,” Carter said.
Patrons can use the Overdrive app to get e-books and audiobooks without physically entering a library, but Carter said some older visitors aren’t comfortable with the internet.
For Slate Canyon School, the service is a part of the way it has obtained accreditation.
Travis Cook, the principal of Slate Canyon School who spent the majority of his career at the Utah State Board of Education, said detention centers needed to have library services in order to receive that designation. Tapping into local community resources is a way to fill that need.
“We do have very small lending libraries, but we don’t necessarily have the space to do comprehensive library work,” Cook said.
He said connecting students with the library while they’re in custody introduces them to a community resource they can use once they’re released. The students don’t have a lot of free time, but do access the materials for class work and independent reading.
Cook said literacy is a high priority at the facility.
“We are grateful to the Provo City Library and other libraries in the state that formally and continually partner with juvenile justice services,” Cook said.
The facility will receive about 40 books at a time from the library. Books are checked out to the individual students, who do not need a Provo City library card.
Carter said the program is always looking for volunteers.
While the program requires homebound patrons to have a library card in good standing, Carter said librarians can go to the patron’s home to help them fill out an application. Interested patrons also need to fill out a separate application for the program.