Bette Forrest, 95, reads eight books a month thanks to Tamworth Home Library Service

NOVEL IDEA: Bette Forrest, 95, has been using the Home Library Service for six years. She chats all things books with Tamworth Regional Library's outreach officer Lisa Cunningham. Photo: Peter Hardin
NOVEL IDEA: Bette Forrest, 95, has been using the Home Library Service for six years. She chats all things books with Tamworth Regional Library's outreach officer Lisa Cunningham. Photo: Peter Hardin

NINETY-FIVE-year-old Bette Forrest reads eight books every month – and it’s all thanks to Tamworth’s Home Library Service.

The avid reader wakes each morning at 5.30am and reads until 8am.

“I do that every day,” she said.

“It’s my greatest pleasure. While I can still read, I’m happy.”

Mrs Forrest has always loved reading – from being roused on as a child for reading by candlelight under her blanket after lights out, to waiting for the mailman to deliver School of Arts books when she first moved to a property.

When she became less mobile six years ago, Mrs Forrest turned to Tamworth Home Library Service.

The free service, run by Tamworth Regional Library that now visits more than 90 Tamworth residents each month, provides access to library resources and products to people in their own home.

“I was devastated when I could no longer drive myself to the local library,” Mrs Forrest said.

“I remember my last visit when I told the librarian that I had to hand in my membership because I just couldn’t make the trip any longer and she asked me if I would be interested in the Home Library Service.

“I had no idea there was such a thing, needless to say, I said, ‘Yes please, of course – sign me up’.

“A very nice lady helped me select my first lot of books and now they know what to send me.

“The books are well looked after, new and clean.

“I’m extremely grateful for this service because I feel I’d be terrible lonely without reading to keep me going each day.”

Tamworth Regional Library (TRL) is also telling its friends about the service, hoping to secure more clients to ensure it remains sustainable into the future.

TRL outreach officer Lisa Cunningham said the biggest challenge to date has been that people are unaware the service exists.

“Even though the Home Library Service has been around for 28 years, many residents don’t know anything about it or where to find out more information about library services in general, so we’re working hard to change that and hoping that by telling our friends they’ll tell their friends and so on until word gets around about this fantastic initiative,” she said.

The Home Library Service delivers to residents and nursing homes across Tamworth each Tuesday of the month.

“To be eligible for the service, applicants will be required to have the necessary paperwork signed by their GP or healthcare worker, but once we have that out teams of volunteers will develop a client profile based on what the client likes and dislikes and a selection of either books, videos, DVDs, magazines, talking books, large print books or CDs will be delivered,” Ms Cunningham said.

Mrs Forrest eagerly awaits her drop of eight books and two DVDs each month.

“I like to read travel, history, biographies,” Mrs Forrest said.

“There’s always a good selection. I’m always thrilled to go through them when they come and decide what I’m going to read first.”

Her favourite book of all time?

Salt: A World HistorySalt: A World History,” she tipped.

TRL is encouraging anyone who may be interested in the service to contact Ms Cunningham at trc@tamworth.nsw.gov.au or phone 6767 5228. 

Anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer at the TRL is also encouraged to email volunteer@tamworth.nsw.gov.au or phone 6766 4480.

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