At Cooperative For Human Services Inc., we are continually seeking opportunities to support individuals to engage in their communities in new ways. The Greater Boston area is rich in local resources that are low cost or free to residents and one such resource is the local town library. Despite the spread of electronic reading materials, today’s libraries not only focus on literacy but have evolved into gathering places for its membership. Libraries are inclusive, safe and accepting environments where individuals are free to explore hobbies and topics of interest.

Most of the individuals we support have library cards, visit their local libraries regularly and participate in events offered there. We also found that many people enjoy listening to someone read aloud to them as it can be soothing and comforting. Since not all libraries offer readings, CHS approached several large libraries to collaborate on development of reading groups for our residential programs in Lexington, North Reading, Reading and Melrose.

Individuals were provided with a personalized tour of their facility and all that their library has to offer: Ebooks, music, movies, art exhibits and cultural events. Each participant was gifted a copy of Chicken Soup For the Soul and a personal journal to document the books they read. Individuals were excited and interested to get started. They come together monthly to decide on book topics, listen to readings and participate in the book discussion at the end of each meeting.

Reading, listening and learning at the library helps individuals feel included in their community and also brings the joy of books into their world.