MONTROSE – With little fanfare, for the last two months the Montrose Library District has been taking its newly acquired 32-foot, fully-loaded bookmobile, Library To Go!, on the road.
The bookmobile, purchased recently from a library in North Carolina, came fully loaded and ready to use – from graphics on the outside to bookshelves on the inside – and since January has been traveling to Olathe, which has no branch of its own, and to senior citizens at Centennial Towers, an independent living facility.
Reference library Sarah Anders said the district had a bookmobile decades ago, and that more recently, readers at Centennial Towers had books delivered by private vehicles, but having the new bookmobile stop there is just the start of the library’s expansion of services. “We are looking forward to adding a couple of stops that will focus on kids and summer reading over the summer here in Montrose,” Anders said.
The bookmobile will have its official grand opening on April 14, National Bookmobile Day, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Montrose library on South Third Street. The public is invited to tour the bookmobile at the event, and enjoy free refreshments and live entertainment.
National Bookmobile Day is part of National Library Week, according to outreach librarian Jeri Gilham in the spring issue of the district’s newsletter, Off the Shelf.
“Libraries are the heart of every community,” Gilham said. “We expect the bookmobile will become a vital part of our operation, bringing valuable resources and access to almost every service that patrons find in the library building.”
For more information, call Gilham at 970/964-2556.
Gilham, Anders and reference librarian Claudia Bishop will travel two at a time with the bookmobile, doing double-duty as drivers, “which is kind of crazy and fun,” Anders said.
“It’s just within the range where it doesn’t require a commercial driver’s license, just short enough,” she said. “It’s fun to drive – it’s really big, completely different” from vehicles the three have driven in the past.
Nonetheless, said Anders: “We avoid backing up whenever possible.”
Since the bookmobile started its travels, Anders said, she has seen a slow and steady increase in patronage in Olathe.
The library district purposely started the service without much publicity, she explained. “We’re kind of starting small with the program and the whole idea is to serve people that can’t get to the library on their own,” she said. “We’re focusing on Olathe because it’s part of our district but they don’t have a library branch.”
The bookmobile goes to Olathe the first and third Thursday of every month, stopping at the town park and the Olathe Community Center.
Bishop and Anders are both fluent in Spanish, an additional asset for Olathe’s many Spanish-speaking residents.
“It’s a community that deserves to have library services and we’re looking forward to reaching out to the Spanish-speaking population, and the whole town, from little kids to seniors,” she said.
The bookmobile, purchased from a library in North Carolina, came fully equipped, with shelves for 1,500 books as well as audio books, movies, a reference collection, and a computer station for research.
More computers could be added later that patrons can use, for example, to surf the Internet or check email, she said.
Anders said she didn’t know the cost of the diesel-powered bookmobile, but that it was purchased mostly with grants secured by Amy McBride, the library’s development officer, who worked hard to raise money for the project, she said.
The bookmobile has also been well-received at local schools, Anders said.
“We’ve taken it out to a couple of literacy events at schools in Montrose, and the kids absolutely loved it.”