Madlyn Schneider: Opening Up New Worlds

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Madlyn Schneider is one librarian who reaches out to her patrons.

The Queens (N.Y.) Library’s Mail-a-Book Service offers homebound customers the convenience of having library materials delivered to their door free of charge.

Not only does the program deliver the standard assortment of books, CDs and DVDs. It also offers innovative interactive programs by teleconference and Skype. These programs make it possible for older adults to socialize with each other, but also encourage lifelong learning by allowing them to participate in discussions led by a variety of professionals.

At the heart of this program is its coordinator, Schneider, whose efforts earned her a 2012 Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award.

Schenider goes above and beyond the call of duty. According to her nominator, Bonnie Sue Pokorny, through the teleconference system, "She opened up a new world to me (and other participants). She even used the conference calling on holidays because she learned that homebound people are often lonely and depressed on holidays. She did this on her own time."

The system came in handy during Hurricane Irene, when "she recognized how apprehensive we were and she held a telephone conference call to get us through it."

The teleconference calls are held three times a week and have been important in forging friendships for those who find it difficult because they are homebound.

"When one is virtually homebound with medical issues, the group becomes the foundation for each other. We are supportive and try to help even if is just a phone call or a note," Pokorny said. 

The calls also have an educational component, including speakers on all subjects.

"We have had health seminar, history seminars and art seminars," Pokorny said. "Ms. Schneider has made arrangements three times in the past couple of years for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) to do a series of programs. The Met makes up binders containing pictures of the art work and each week a different dozen lectures on the pieces and we have an interesting lecture. Each binder is about five to six weeks worth of lectures so that we have more than a month of our virtual art visit to the Met."

And for those who are unable to go to museums, they have benefited from Schneider making arrangements with the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) for a five week lecture series starting in October 2012.

Schneider opened new worlds in other ways, by suggesting reading unfamiliar and ultimately rewarding material.

"She has expanded my reading so much that there are times I have a problem keeping up with them (not a complaint
but a compliment).  I love to read books and also enjoy listening to audio books.  There has never been a time since Ms. Schneider took on the managerial role at MAB that I was ever without materials.  This may not be impressive except that I normally read about fifteen to twenty books a month and listen to numerous audio books."

n the video below, Madlyn Schneider speaks briefly about whait meant to win the 2012 I Love My Librarian Award.

Read Madlyn Schneider's full nomination and learn more about all the 2012 I Love My Librarian Award winners.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award encourages library users to recognize the accomplishments of exceptional public, school, college, community college, or university librarians.

The award is administered by the American Library Association with generous support from Carnegie Corporation of New York and The New York Times.


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