Reading on the Road 6

MidPointe Library Rolls Back to a Library On Wheels

There are days when the thought of leaving home to get a book may seem like a long trek; for some people, transportation challenges make such a journey nearly impossible.

However, the library can now come to you in the recently unveiled new bookmobile.

“We’re growing our outreach department, what we now call Library On Wheels,” says Cari Hillman, Public Relations Manager for MidPointe Library. “We are really passionate about getting library materials to those who don’t have a library location near them.”

MidPointe Library started branching out beyond the library proper in 1938 with its first bookmobile, a truck that carried a sizable collection of books. Its first stops included 22 eastern Butler County villages and 14 schools. The bookmobile service stopped in 1989 but recently re-emerged when MidPointe received a Library Services and Technology Act grant to partially fund the new program.

“Patrons are feeling nostalgic,” says Sandy Little, Content Specialist at MidPointe Library. “I remember exactly where the bookmobile parked when it came to my elementary school in Middletown. This is the first time in 30 years that patrons have that same feeling.”

The new 30-foot bookmobile is equipped with free Wi-Fi, as well as about 3,000 books, DVDs and magazines. Readers of any age can get a library card and borrow materials.

“Sometimes the bulk of an entire collection gets checked out during visits to schools,” Little says. “But that is a good problem to have since it means that thousands of books are in the hands of children!”

MidPointe’s bookmobile also visits parks, senior living communities and other hubs in the Butler County service area. The schedule, which is posted on social media, at branches, and at bookmobile stops, is structured so that people can also return books on the bookmobile the next time it stops in their area.

“We know that if you are a mom with three kids, it can be hard to pack everyone up and get to the library,” Hillman says. “Having a library event at the park down the street makes it so much more accessible.”

The bookmobile is a way to take some of the library’s programming to a larger audience. It will host story times, movie nights using the speaker system and projector, and other summer reading initiatives.

This summer, the Faith Alliance of West Chester and Liberty will work closely with the MidPointe bookmobile on a summer literacy program, which helps bridge the reading gap between summer months. Their students will have access to the bookmobile, giving the Faith Alliance program a larger collection of diverse books.

Library On Wheels Manager Zach Roberts sees the work they do as both rewarding and innovative in a new era of libraries.

“Nine out of 10 kids we saw at first didn’t have a library card, and for a huge percentage, it’s the first time borrowing from a library,” Roberts says. “We are starting to see the second or third visit to some of these schools. We are changing the way libraries are, and going out into the community will be the way libraries are in the future.”