Pub Rants

Age Defying

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STATUS: Snow? There was snow in the forecast? I love when they predict a foot of it and we get nada. And spring is back! In the 60s tomorrow. Hooray.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I WALK THE LINE by Johnny Cash

Now here is a dilemma in need of a practical solution. Last week, Sara fielded a call from a 94-year old woman looking for help in republishing a narrative historical nonfiction work that she wanted to see back in print before she died.

She had no access to the internet so we couldn’t direct her to our usual list of online resources that we give out when people call.

She could not drive—which rules out the next helpful hint we usually give people which is to visit the local library and talk to the librarian.

She did not live within walking distance of any kind of resource and although we didn’t ask about her physical health, we rather did get the sense that her mobility might be limited.

I have to say that we were a little flummoxed as to how to help her. Sara actually spent 30 minutes or more talking with this caller to see if she could come up with a solution. We thought about maybe ordering a book for her and having it delivered but she had vision issues so that wasn’t going to work.

We finally ended up asking her if she had a grandchild that lived in town (or wouldn’t mind a long distance call) and whether he or she could ring us up as we’d be happy to talk to them and point them in the right direction to the best of our ability. So far they haven’t called back.

Which makes me positive that we left out some wholly obvious solution to assist this caller.

20 Responses

  1. Jenn Johansson said:

    I am astounded at how much you DID do and you are wondering what you didn’t?

    Whatever comes of it–awesome effort, Kristin and Sara, just awesome.

  2. Jessica said:

    It makes me curious, though, how the caller found your number and decided to call you in particular to begin with. It seems there must be someone able to help her in finding an agent’s phone number.

  3. Jen P said:

    Out of curiosity, what was the narrative historical nonfiction work?

    Maybe it’s on Google or if the publisher still exists she could contact them directly?

    Perhaps, I am being really naive. It sounds like your team went out of your way to be helpful and supportive. Kudos. So many have no time or patience for the elderly, who were young & able once too..

  4. magolla said:

    Kudos to both of you for trying to help this old lady.
    But if she could call you, she could also talk to a librarian who might be able to find the phone number to some place where she could self publish. And if she couldn’t see to dial the numbers, there was obviously someone there who helped her do it to begin with.
    You did your best, now let it go.

  5. Stef Kramer said:

    You ARE a nice Midwestern girl. Your unnecessary guilt reveals your good soul! (I’m right with you…) Where in the world are this lady’s relatives? They should be all over this project…

  6. M. Dunham said:

    Your last suggestion was the best one given the woman’s advanced age. I work with a lot of elderly and disabled people, and one of the things I’ve found is it’s very helpful to have a third party involved that’s part of their life who can help get these sort of things done.

    You might also want to have asked if she had a caregiver or assistant who could help her. In today’s day and age, many elderly people have some sort of home help. I also wonder how she managed to get your phone number.

  7. Patricia W. said:

    I’d Google to make sure it really was out of print.

    Then, I’d ask whether a neighbor, church member, or home health aid might be able to assist her–people who likely come by to check on and help her.

    Keep us posted.

  8. strangerface said:

    Hmm! This is a worthy endeavor, I approve of you helping her out.

    Does she know who the original publisher is? I suppose it’s too much to hope that they still have the files if rights reverted? Because then she could have someone help her self publish it through Amazon or somesuch.

    I worked at a book packager once and part of what they did was scan really old titles with programs that convert images into text so they could be republished. That was years ago, I bet the technology is better now…

  9. Anonymous said:

    I’m a legal aid lawyer, and so many times, I simply can’t take a person’s case because a) it’s not really a legal issue, b) it’s a legal issue but not within our office’s current priorities, or c)they aren’t eligible for services due to income. What I’ve found in the fifteen years I’ve been working in this position is that most people are just happy to TALK to someone. Whether the issue is resolved or not, the fact that someone listened and attempted to help in even a small way is appreciated.

    So, you did good.

  10. Susan said:

    I think you were nearly there with the Librarian suggestion (I’m one): people can *telephone* their local libraries for help as well as visit, and most libraries will have a file of local resources such as groups that work with aging folks, where perhaps a volunteer for this project could be found.

    Also, some libraries have a ‘home help’ type service, which means that library workers or volunteers will do library runs for homebound people, choosing books and delivering them, picking them up on time, etc. Such a person could perhaps also bring them the library’s information such as a Writer’s Market and other books on publishing: preferably on tape, or could sit down and help with the search if they could.

    Anyhow, a library is always a great suggestion; they have specific local information and a lot of resources beyond what’s on the shelves.

    I think you were pure gold to help so much–even to talk for so long, in these too-busy days.

    I’ll be wishing her luck anyhow!

  11. Kristin Laughtin said:

    Seconding Susan’s suggestion as another library worker.

    Wow, I’m not sure what else you could have done. There’s still a chance a family member could ring you up, and hopefully they will. I too am curious as to how she got your number. But with limited mobility and no internet, I wonder what other solutions there could be. I suppose if she were able to walk to her mailbox (or had someone who could for her), business could be conducted via snail mail, but then there were the vision issues. She definitely needs a third party to assist her, and hopefully someone she knows will be able.

  12. Brandon said:

    If she’s really that infirm, I’d agree with M. Dunham that she must have some kind of caregiver that can help her out. She certainly must have some kind of arrangement with someone who prepares her meals, or buys her groceries. You gotta eat no matter how old you get.

    I can see that it might be an imposition to ask someone like that to help you get out and about, but it’s all I can think of.

    PS. Love your blog, and I find it strange that this is the first time I have ever felt compelled to leave a comment.

    I think it’s because one time I tried to tell my grandmother to “x out of a box” on her screen over the phone, and ended up having to drive to her house on the other side of town, only to find her furiously pounding the “x” key on her keyboard.

  13. Janet Reid said:

    The local high school might have a volunteer program that helps kids learn about service.

    I do like the idea of finding out if she has a regular church.

    You’ve earned some nice karma points today Kristin..not that you really need them!!

  14. Shannan said:

    You went through several possible options so go you!

    Another option – she can’t go to the library, how about calling the library? Libraries do answer phone queries as well and many have shut-in services and might be able to deliver books or other resources right to her. Just a thought. I’m a librarian so that’s the answer I go to =D