Story by Darl Devault, Feature Writer
Seniors are important to the Mabel C. Fry Public Library in Yukon and they have almost 5,000 large print books to support their reading needs. These fiction, nonfiction and biography books are widely circulated, especially since the library is in the same building next to the Dale Robertson Center, Yukon’s Senior Center.
“Our large print collection is one of the most circulated collections in the library,” Librarian Sara Schieman said. “We know this because we routinely weed our holdings, deleting those books not being checked out. Our large print books rarely make that list.” (story continues below)
“We have found our seniors are more comfortable with physical books than eBooks because most of them prefer the ease and feel of a printed book.” Schieman said.
This library, born out of community effort and named in honor of the first paid librarian, has small town charm based on a strong customer service ethic with big city technology. Customers can watch travelers driving on Route 66 right out front while using current technologies such as free Wi-Fi extending to the property line. This service was just upgraded through a $5,000 Digital Inclusion grant from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL). The library, one of four in Canadian County, is funded by the City of Yukon, grants and its two support groups.
Another important offering for seniors is a computer with an oversized keyboard and special software which allows the patron to increase the size of anything on the screen for readability. The software, Zoom Text, is also able to read out the text on the screen to the patron. The large print high contrast keyboard, ball mouse, and accessibility software were bought with a grant from ODL and Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
“When our seniors discover this capability, the accessible computer station becomes the one they select to use from then on,” Schieman said.
The IMLS’s purpose is to advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grant-making, research, and policy development.
“We were fortunate to get this latest grant to buy outdoor access points for enhanced WI-FI so community members can freely access the internet from our parking lot and west field day or night,” Schieman said. “This high-speed access will empower residents of Yukon and Canadian county who might need the internet when the library is closed.”
Schieman emphasizes customer service as the guiding light for the seven full time and five part-time employees of the library, which returned to regular service hours in October. “We stress to our fellow employees how important it is to greet each library patron as they come in and ask how we can help them that day,” she said. “We strive to provide the best customer service we can, to make the library a welcoming place for everyone.”
Assistant Librarian Shawna Deeds extends customer service to another level by providing patrons in Yukon home bound service by delivering books and materials to their homes. “I deliver about once a month for most of our patrons who require the service,” Deeds said. “I get to know my patrons well and learn their reading habits to curate personalized deliveries of large print books and books on CDs. It is truly one of the highlights of my job.”
Lately the librarians have assumed a new helping role in the community by assisting seniors get registered on the Oklahoma State Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine registration portal. They have helped patrons to register, fill out the short questionnaire and provided pointers to help them schedule their appointment to receive the COVID-19 Vaccine.
Another strong customer service point is Deeds and the other staff helping patrons with digital equipment. This has run the gamut from helping patrons set up their Kindle E-readers to assisting with Microsoft Office products such as Excel. “Shawna has gotten so good at assisting these folks we have begun allowing patrons to set up appointments for one-on-one assistance,” Schieman said. “However, all of our staff is available for walk-in technology help.”