There are two population groupings served by the Mobile Library:
1. Pre-kindergarten Children
The first group is pre-kindergarten children. In Brevard County there are approximately 22,135 preschool children in Brevard County. Of that number there are approximately 650 children in the Head Start Program, the bulk of who are served by the Mobile Library. (It should be noted that the Mobile Library does not exclusively serve Head Start children.) A portion of day care centers, visited by the Mobile Library, have children from middle and upper class homes. The majority of day care programs served is from Head Start schools.
The Mobile Library visits twenty eight day care Head Start programs throughout the county. Some programs are scheduled twice a month with others being visited each week. In an average month (four day per week) the Mobile Library will visit 15 centers and see an average of 134 children each day. The total number of stops for 2011 was 181 with 7,986 contacts with children. The Mobile Library travels an average of 666 miles a month for a yearly total of 7,986 miles per year.
The Mobile Library encourages children to read and develop an appreciation for books. To reinforce the child’s interest in books, the Mobile Library gives each child a book of their very own on each visit to the program. It should be noted that, for some, this book is the first they have owned.
There is a serendipitous effect that is being seen often. The children, after attending the mobile library and having their first “library experience,” end up urging their parents to take them to one of the local libraries. This introduces or reintroduces their parents to the benefits of being a part of the local libraries. This compounds the impact the Mobile Library has on the community.
It should be noted that all the good studies indicate that developing reading skills at an early age reduces the chance of the child dropping out of school. The long range impact of this program has profound potential for the participants and, ultimately, for Brevard County.
2. The second group includes home-bound and institutionalized elderly.
Brevard County is fast becoming a community of elderly. Approximately 190,000 persons in Brevard County are 60 years of age or older. This amounts to 29 percent of Brevard County’s total population. Of that number, 120,000 are age 65 and older. This reflects over 17 percent of Brevard’s total population. By 2015 the 65+ population will represent 36% of Brevard’s population. (Florida ranks number 1 in the nation for the percentage of persons 65 and older.) Of the present 120,000 elderly, that are 65 or older, almost 1,900 live in assisted living facilities. This does not include the elderly in nursing homes or those who live at home but are unable to drive a vehicle. Most, if not all of these, need a caretaker or family member to take care of them in some form or matter.
In 2011, the Mobile Library visited ten different programs that serve elderly exclusively. The average number of elderly visiting the Mobile Library average 110 per month. The total number of visits in 2011 was 132 (serving 1,322 elderly). As with the pre-kindergarten program most adult programs are visited weekly or bi-monthly. The bottom line is that the Mobile Library serves a very small number of elderly who are confined to homes or assisted living facilities. It must be noted that the demand for services far exceeds the ability of the Mobile Library. It should also be noted that each adult that participates in the program is given a book of their very own.
The great majority of the present elderly population in Brevard County grew up with access to public libraries. Most, at one time, owned a library card. Many would continue using the libraries if they could gain transportation to a library. Now, because of numerous life events, aging being the most prominent, this segment of the population is unable to access the local libraries. Some, who are seemingly capable of driving, are too anxious to make a trip in their automobile. Some have forfeited their driving license because of some impairment. Many are totally dependent on either public transportation or having family members or friends transport them from to and from public libraries. This eliminates many from attending libraries. This robs them of a service they have used all their lives. The end result is accelerated mental deterioration. All good studies indicate that elderly, when intellectually stimulated, continue to perform mental tasks and dementia is slowed. The Mobile Library provides library services to this population in their place of residence and/or assisted living facilities. It is a given that elderly who are mentally stimulated tend to function appropriately much longer than those who are not mentally stimulated. It is interesting to note that only three percent of elderly are in nursing homes. Having access to the mobile library will enhance their lives and slow the process of moving into skilled care nursing homes. The Mobile Library program accepts the fact that elderly can learn well into their nineties if not beyond.
The Negroni-Hendrick Mobile Library operates on a small budget because of cutbacks in funding for libraries in general. Its present budget is approximately $65,000. It has a single employee who operates as librarian, driver and program director. It requires funding from the Foundation, in addition to the funding that comes from the Brevard County Library System. With a combination of funding the Mobile Library remains in a budget crunch. There is a desperate need for community funding for programs, materials and upkeep.
Short Term Goals:
The present economic situation dictates that short term goals be limited to maintaining the present programs. The present schedule will remain for this year and possibly the following two years. The additions to the program will be cosmetic changes to the vehicle and maintaining equipment and supplies. The unit is in need of a new “wrapping,” (signage on the Vehicle), at a cost of $6,000. *A single donor would have his or her name on the exterior of the vehicle.
For more information on the Mobile Library or the work of the Foundation, contact Ned Kellar at (321) 633-1887 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brevard Library Foundation
Now located in the RIVERHOUSE
219 Indian River Drive
Cocoa, FL 32922