Local library assistant featured
Last updated 3/18/2020 at 10:39am
RITZVILLE - Amy Hille grew up here.
After a health and fitness career in California, she moved back home and became the library assistant at East Adams Library District.
After a few months, the library director asked her what type of programming she'd like to bring to the library.
"Since I'd returned to our small town, I was seeing that there has been a consistent loss and continual loss of services, both health and social, in the time I had been gone and I thought that was something that the library could address," she said.
The library didn't have any health programming, so Hille connected with Michele Spatz, All of Us Community Engagement Coordinator.
Spatz helped her plan a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day program and told her about the grant.
"Through Michele's support and guidance, we were able to get that grant and our health programming just kind of blossomed," Hille said.
The largest component of East Adams Library District's health programming is monthly health literacy programs, which feature speakers on a variety of topics. The grant allows the library to give these speakers a small travel stipend.
Topics for the monthly programs have included mental health, genetics, vaccinations, gay-lesbian health awareness and healthy aging.
Along with training library staff to improve their ability to help patrons with health questions, Hille is working on rebuilding the library's physical collection of medical and health information.
She's also setting up a computer kiosk where community members can access health and insurance information and enroll in social service programs.
At East Adams Library District, one of the most successful programs focused on Medicare enrollment.
One month, a group from the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner gave a comprehensive presentation about Medicare. The next month's program was an open enrollment event.
Hille said that at the time of the event there was a line of people ready to participate.
She met attendees living off Social Security checks who were able to sign up for assistance programs through the event and veterans who learned they may qualify for health care coverage through the VA.
The volunteer who put on the enrollment event told Hille it was one of the most successful enrollment events she's participated in, especially considering the community's small size.
Hille said residents are "really happy that this programming is in place" and are giving suggestions for future topics.
Hille said that it can be hard scheduling library events around community happenings like high school sporting events:
"Part of our struggle with the programming is: How can we provide these services at time periods that people are able to attend and how can we figure out the programming that is really going to catch their eye?"
Another challenge in her community is limited budgets. She added, "In rural areas that's everybody's struggle. The fact that we're all staying afloat and operating is already a success."