Read for Life: LAMP Outreach
March 3, 2022
by: Andrea Lemoins
“Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn’t mean he lacks vision.”
― Stevie Wonder
The Library of Accessible Media for Pennsylvanians (LAMP) provides reading materials and other accessible media so that all may read for life! Our work to connect accessible library collections to people who are print disabled supports all Pennsylvanians in exploring our world and engaging in life-long learning.
As an Outreach Coordinator for LAMP in Philadelphia, I have had the privilege of talking with people across our state who are building community through reading. I began working for LAMP in the summer of 2021, right when our organization changed its name from the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to the Library of Accessible Media for Pennsylvanians. At that time many people who use our services asked why we changed our name. I learned, from my dedicated colleagues, that the name was changed to make services for our state’s print disabled population easily discoverable, accessible, and inclusive. Some readers didn’t feel they could connect to our services because they thought our services were only for those who have visual or physical impairments. However, our services are for anyone who cannot hold or read a traditional book. For instance, people who are dyslexic can apply for services. Even people with temporary physical issues due to eye surgeries can access our services for the duration of their recovery. LAMP services aren’t just for individuals. Schools, library systems and various organizations can apply to connect LAMP services to those they serve. The new name depicts the breath of our work, and we hope that more Pennsylvanians see themselves as eligible for LAMP services.
Informing communities in Pennsylvania about LAMP services is vital to ensuring that all may read. Even during the pandemic, outreach staff have attended Senior Expos, resource fairs and conventions across the state. We have given our share of presentations via Zoom as well! Every time we attend an event or host an online meeting, we hear stories from elders who are finding it difficult to read due to a loss of vision, from those who have enjoyed our Talking Book program for decades and from people who enjoy our Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) app that lets them listen to books, magazines and more on their smartphone or tablet.
Our Wi-Fi HotSpot lending program is also popular as it supports people’s ability to download BARD materials and connect them to friends, family and community through the internet. I have also heard from people who enjoy attending our book club programs and who are looking forward to gathering together in-person once it is safe to do so. All of these stories point to how LAMP materials and programming support not only reading, but also community connection.
LAMP’s best outreach team is made up of our patrons and volunteers! People who use and support our services often refer others and connect us to organizations and groups who would be interested in learning more about our library. I’ve reached out to ophthalmologists, senior centers, nursing homes, art organizations and other library systems about our services because of a personal connection shared with a patron or volunteer. These community building connections are at the heart of our outreach.
If you or someone you know is print disabled and would like to connect to LAMP programs and services, you can download the LAMP application by clicking the “Apply” button on the MyLAMP.org website. The same application can be used for individuals or institutions. The website also has information about eligibility, programming and ways to search for books in our system. We are also just a phone call away! Call us at 800.242.0586 to speak to a staff member about applying for LAMP or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to make sure that reading is accessible to all Pennsylvanians. That all may read for life!