Barry Crowell has lost much of his vision through age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but he has gained a love of reading through Western Counties Regional Library’s Playaways.

photo of a man wearing a red T-shirt holding a DVD in front of a television set

Barry Crowell picks up a stack of Playaways from McKay Memorial Library in Shelburne.

No longer able to pursue his art, read, write or drive, Crowell, 83, had friends suggest a visit to his local library in Shelburne.

“They said ‘Why don’t you go to the library and check out the audiobooks’,” Crowell says.

He hadn’t been to the library in years, but found the clerks at McKay Memorial Library extremely helpful, guiding him towards the library’s Playaways, one of the newer additions to the library’s collection.

A Playaway is a pre-loaded audiobook that gives library users the portability and freedom to take audiobooks everywhere. They are similar in size to an iPod and do not need to be connected to the Internet or downloaded.

Borrowers require their own headphones and suitable batteries.

“Playaways are very popular,” says Lydia Hunsberger, Manager of Collections and Digital Services at the library.

Crowell has been borrowing Playaways for the past several months. Because he needs a drive to the library from his Gunning Cove home, he gets to the library every two weeks.

He says he makes lists of titles he is interested in and the clerks are great at tracking his lists and his interests to avoid repeats.

“They (library clerks) picked out books for me,” he says. “The clerks are very helpful.”

He says overall, the books he has borrowed, he has liked, but sometimes the accents used in the recordings can be challenging.

He would also like to see more of his favourites, older authors such as Louis L’Amour and Farley Mowat. He enjoys James Patterson, but at times, finds his stories can get “quite gruesome.”

Regardless, his discovery of the library Playaways has rekindled his love of reading.