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SENIORS : Not Just Books : The library's magazine collection makes financial sense, and some branches present lectures and films.

January 31, 1991|ROBYN LOEWENTHAL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The latest issue of Modern Maturity magazine just arrived and greedy you read it all in the same day. Realizing that it's only a bimonthly publication, you develop Peggy Lee Syndrome, a condition characterized by relentless interior monologue: "Is that all there is?" Then you remember: The Library.

Besides books, your local public library offers magazines and services dedicated to the needs and interests of people age 50 and older.

Consider the Thousand Oaks library, which subscribes to more than 200 periodicals on a wide range of subjects, from Modern Maturity, New Choices for the Best Years and Aging, to Social Security Update. The library also carries Senior World and Southern California Senior Life, two monthly newspapers that publicize senior activities in this area.

According to Norma Callero, grants and volunteer coordinator, seniors comprise about 25% of the library's patrons. She expects that number to grow with the opening of the new Goebel Senior Center next door. "Seniors who are still working seem to use business periodicals and reference books the most," Callero said. "Those who are retired tend to favor fiction, periodicals and the leisure reading section."

Dorothy Wagoner, 66, and her 71-year-old husband, Neal, are regular patrons. "I just come for the educational things," Dorothy said. "We took retirement as a lump sum and have no pension. Now we have to keep abreast with business because our security is totally in our control." The Wagoners both read U.S. News and World Report and Time magazines.

The magazine collection also makes financial sense to Ben Brown, age 60. "In any given magazine there's only one or two articles that you're really interested in," Brown said. "So why pay four bucks for it?" Magazines on Western art, aviation and archeology top his list.

Using a $26,500 grant from the California State Library, Callero has ordered materials to enhance services to senior citizens. Acquisitions include more large-print books, books on tape, videos, materials in Braille, and new high-magnification equipment for people with vision problems.

The library also plans a series of lectures on issues concerning older adults. Topics will include retirement, health and financial management. In addition, an outreach program staffed by volunteers has been inaugurated to deliver library materials to housebound patrons.

Patrons can also rent the latest best-selling hardcover books for 50 cents a week. The Friendly Book Discussion group meets monthly. The guided conversation at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 7 will address Harriet Doerr's novel "Stones for Ibarra."

If you tire of reading, you may want to choose an involvement opportunity instead. The library especially welcomes older volunteers to assist the shut-in program, or to perform many interesting jobs that support library services.

But you may be too busy reading. It's as Brown observed: "They've got just about every magazine there could be here."

WHERE AND WHEN: For details on city and county public library services, contact the County of Ventura, Library Services Agency, 4274 Telegraph Road, Ventura, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays, or call your local branch. Hours vary.

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