Checking out some bookmobiles

by on May 27th, 2016

We knew a bookmobile could help us further expand library services beyond downtown, but some of us (including me) had never set foot in one!  Over the past year, ICPL staff members have visited several bookmobiles to get a feel for these moving libraries that fit DVDs, magazines, and books for all ages in the size of a bus.

Inside the Scott County Library System bookmobileI’ve been impressed by how bright and inviting bookmobiles can be. Some have cozy wooden shelves like the Ames Public Library’s, and others have modern-looking metal shelving that can be easily adjusted like one bookmobile we saw in the Chicago area.  Many use creative ways to keep small things like board books and music CDs from flying around while driving, some stagger materials for different ages so that taller people can browse behind children looking at the lower shelves, and they all do their best to maximize every last square inch in the space.  (If you like to daydream about tiny houses like me, here’s a variation!)

I had the pleasure of seeing the Scott County Library System’s bookmobile in Eldridge, Iowa last weekend.  Their two-year-old Bluebird-style bookmobile travels throughout the county to residential neighborhoods, parks, gas stations, a farmers market, a swimming pool, a shopping mall, and even a baseball diamond!  They enjoy being out on the road and getting to know the people at each stop.

scottco_bookmobileThis was a meeting of the Midwest Bookmobile Alliance, a group composed of mainly Iowa bookmobiles that includes the Antelope Lending Library, Scott County, Ames Public Library, and now us.  I received some great advice from Cassi and Braeden of the Antelope Lending Library and Cathy of Scott County about all the little details that go into organizing and operating a bookmobile.  We talked about back-up cameras, picking up holds on the bookmobile, climate control, tips for getting a bookmobile un-stuck in the snow, and much more, including Antelope‘s expanded summer schedule in Iowa City.  I shared my dream of broadcasting music from ICPL’s bookmobile like an ice cream truck, and Cathy said their old bookmobile did play calliope music!  Everyone hated it.  🙂

We’re excited to be preparing for a mobile library branch that will get out to where you are!   Did you grow up with a bookmobile?  Share with us what you loved about it!

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