"It's a lifesaver. For me, being without books is like starving. I just look forward to having something to read."
That's Payson resident Helen Nu extolling the virtues of a service for local shut-ins offered by the Payson Library's support organization, Library Friends of Payson.
Nu who 18 years ago suffered a spinal injury that leaves her confined to a wheelchair, had a difficult time obtaining library materials before the program began last December.
"Unlike many of those who use this service, I can get to the library," she said. "My trouble is maneuvering my wheelchair through those narrow aisles, which is just about impossible. So this service is very valuable to me."
Members of the Library Friends designed the service for wannabe-readers of any age in the Payson area who are unable to visit the library due to an illness or disability, those who must depend on someone for transportation, or even caregivers who have a hard time getting out of the house, program organizer Peggy Freeman said.
Through the service, volunteers provide patrons with books, books on tape and videos within the library's catalog all preselected by the patron.
Now 4 months old, the shut-in service has been inexplicably slow to take off, Freeman said.
"At the moment we have about 25 volunteers and about 15 shut-ins signed up. I think we need to stress that this is not a charity; it is a service, and it costs the taxpayers nothing."
The benefits of the service include much more than books and other literary materials, said Diane Ruman and Diana Garrity, a pair of Library Friends members who also serve as volunteer workers for the shut-in service.
"It's joyful for us, because we get to visit people like Helen," Garrity said. "We don't just drop the books off and leave; we stay and visit, chat, laugh."
Ruman delivers books to shut-ins between Star Valley and Christopher Creek, where she lives.
"I originally thought there'd be so many people who'd want this service," she said. But thus far, she has only one client on her route: an 82-year-old Christopher Creek woman who is legally blind and has developed a fondness for books on tape.
"We need to get the word out," Ruman said. "I know there are a lot of people who could really use and enjoy this service."
Shut-ins or their friends or relatives can call Peggy Freeman at 472-6662 to sign up for book delivery, volunteer, or get more information.