One of the most important aspects of the Red Carpet Department is the delivery schedule which is maintained by the Red Carpet staff, as well as volunteers throughout the community. Deliveries are performed on a rotating two week schedule and include long term care facilities and housing communities, as well as service directly to the homes of people who have a physical condition that restricts access to the main library or bookmobiles. Deliveries made to housing communities and long term care facilities are meant to assist the people living at those facilities and are not available to the general public. In a way, Red Carpet staff members are the personal librarians of the people they deliver to, therefore they take very seriously the job of selecting and presenting materials which will be enjoyed by all of their patrons.
In preparation for a delivery, staff gather materials such as books, movies, music, and any other materials in demand by the patrons they serve. The method of gathering varies according to the delivery site. At many housing communities, the Red Carpet Staff are able to bring their delivery truck which is stocked with books, and which also houses book carts which can be easily rolled into the main gathering area to be browsed. Some items which are specifically requested by patrons will be brought to these facilities as well. For deliveries to a long term care facility, staff members select library materials for each individual to the specifications they request. Since there is generally no browsing of carts at these facilities, the staff members must assure that they bring each patron what they specifically want and generally take these materials to their individual rooms. The gathering process for homebound deliveries works in much the same way. The biggest difference is that the Red Carpet staff member generally calls their homebound patrons in advance of their delivery to ask what materials they would like for the upcoming two week period. A list is then created which guides the gathering process. Despite these generalities of how the gathering process works, each member of the Red Carpet team has their own methods and are constantly on the lookout for materials which might be of interest to their patrons. Knowledge of the library’s collection is essential, and the greater this knowledge base is, the more satisfaction the patron receives. As the staff get to know each individual on their routes, they begin to learn their preferences and develop a relationship which is rewarding for both staff and patron.
By delivery day, many materials which are being taken to specific patrons are already checked out to them and simply need to be delivered. This is true for homebound patrons as well as folks who live in long term care facilities. These deliveries are usually done in smaller library vehicles by staff or volunteers. For many of the larger housing communities throughout the Topeka area the staff take out the delivery truck which requires very little loading. The portable carts must be filled if they are not already, and patron holds and requests must be loaded, as well as empty storage tubs to bring returned items back to the library. However, with the book carts already on the truck and the number of books which are always stored on the vehicle, the loading process usually takes a minimal amount of time.
If a staff member is delivering to a housing or apartment community, carts of books and movies are generally taken inside for residents to browse. The number of carts needed varies depending upon the size of the facility. Holds and requests are taken in as well, and usually set out on a table for patrons to pick up at their leisure. At this point, staff members answer various reference questions, assist patrons in finding materials, or conduct reference interviews in order to better serve the residents of the community. Time spent at the site can vary anywhere from fifteen minutes to two hours depending on the size of the site and how many people take advantage of the service provided. When it is time to go, the materials are taken out to the truck and transported back to the library.
Each Red Carpet staff member is in charge of an average of three or four routes every two weeks, and a total of anywhere from fifty to eighty patron accounts. In addition, most routes require two staff members, so the total number of deliveries in a given two week span could be double that amount. Despite this fact, the Red Carpet staff is able to maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with all of the patrons they deliver materials to. This relationship is one of the main reasons the staff enjoy their work so much.