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BOOKS FOR SHUT-INS LIBRARIAN ARRANGES VOLUNTEER DELIVERY.

Byline: Danielle Cohen Staff Writer

BURBANK - Once a month for the past 14 years, Marta Carroll has driven to Don Bradley's home with a bag of books from the Burbank Central Library.

During each visit - usually on a Sunday - she spends about an hour in Bradley's apartment, chatting about the books he has read and the new ones she's brought.

``I enjoy Mr. Bradley's company,'' Carroll said. ``He's a real character. He always has a joke to tell. He's always glad to see me.''

As a volunteer for the Burbank Public Library's Home Borrowers Program, Carroll - who works part-time for a metal-stamping manufacturer in North Hollywood - has been a lifeline for Bradley's love of books. Bradley has needed a wheelchair for the past 20 years after losing the use of his left side because of an aneurysm.

The program uses volunteers to bring library materials to Burbank residents who cannot come to the library or carry books home because of age, illness or disability.

``Look what she's done for me,'' said Bradley, 75. ``Anybody who works all day and then takes time out for others, I'm all for.''

Bradley has been an avid reader since childhood and now enjoys books on boats, sailing and archaeology, especially that of the Roman Empire.

Carroll, 47, whose taste runs more toward romance novels and books about gardening, usually brings about five books for Bradley each visit.

``I can't say we have a lot in common,'' Carroll said, ``but he's a very intellectual man and can converse with anybody about anything.

``I enjoy listening to his stories - his calamities and his tragedies. He could write the best book in the world because of all of his experiences,'' she said.

As coordinator of the program, librarian Naomi Aronoff selects the books brought to each participant.

``They're depending on my taste, based upon their likes, of course,'' Aronoff said.

When they sign up for the program, homebound patrons are profiled to find out their choices in genres and authors, as well as their preference for hardcovers, paperbacks, large print or audiocasettes.

The borrower is then matched with a volunteer, and a schedule is arranged for deliveries and pick-ups. While the regular checkout time is three weeks, home borrowers can keep materials for four.

Borrowers can check out anything except videos because the library only has one copy of each of those. There is no fee to enroll in the program, and borrowers do not pay overdue fines.

The program has 12 volunteers and 16 borrowers, with room for more, Aronoff said.

While the volunteers agree only to deliver and return books, they often form a rapport with the borrowers and spend time with them apart from the program.

``They're not making social-service calls,'' Aronoff said, ``but invariably they all get involved.

``A volunteer is a giving person, so they do it, anyway. They really get attached,'' she said.

The program is not unique to Burbank, with even the Los Angeles Public Library system offering a similar one.

To find out more about Burbank's Home Borrowers Program, visit the Web site www.burbank.lib.ca.us or call (818) 238-5580.

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Photo:

Volunteer Marta Carroll delivers books to homebound Don Bradley every month.

Evan Yee/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 25, 2002
Words:542
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