What is a Bookmobile?
You’ve probably heard the term bookmobile. Maybe you’ve even seen one out cruising around. They look cool, but what exactly are they and most importantly, how can you use them to enrich your reading life?!
It’s pretty simple, a bookmobile is any vehicle designed for use as a library. So in other words, it’s a mobile library! They expand the reach of a traditional library by taking books and other services to people in rural areas, or those who aren’t able to leave their homes.
According to Wikipedia, the earliest mobile libraries in the United States began in the early 1900’s.
The American Library Association‘s website states, “According to the most currently available report from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, about six percent of public libraries had one or more bookmobile outlets, with a total of 659 bookmobiles delivering library services in the U.S.”
I’m fortunate to have two great public libraries close by, and one of them has a bookmobile. I’ve been meaning to check it out ever since it opened up, so a couple weeks ago I finally reached out to the staff and climbed aboard to check it out!
Bozeman Public Library‘s Bookmobile has been in operation since July 3, 2017 and has two staff members. Wes has been with it ever since, and Jessica joined later. Together they travel around the Bozeman area, visiting schools, senior care facilities, and other spots where people are in need of services.
This bookmobile acts as another branch of the physical library. You can check out and return books, and even return your books here if they need to go to the main branch. Jessica says they you can do just about anything at the bookmobile that you can at the main library, except donate books.
For adults, they stock mostly newer releases, along with large print books, and seasonal nonfiction. These books can’t be put on hold, so it’s a great resource for those super popular titles that have a long wait list otherwise.
For kids, they stock a wide variety of books for all ages. And one thing that sets the bookmobile apart from the main library is that there are board games on board that can be checked out! I was surprised they visit so many schools, since they have their own libraries. The bookmobile supplements those libraries often aren’t able to stay stocked with new releases.
Wes says they make 40-60 stops per month in the bookmobile, at about an hour each. They even visit a one room schoolhouse!
Jessica gave me a full tour, and it’s clear from talking to her and Wes that they both love what they do! We’re lucky to have them out and about helping people get their hands on books.
If you live in the Bozeman area, you should definitely make time to check it out. You can find a schedule here, on the library’s website.
If you don’t live close enough to visit this book mobile, I highly encourage you to find out if there’s one in your area. Even if you don’t use it regularly, it’s worth seeing what services they offer.