The Cleveland Bradley County Public Library purchased the bookmobile 10 years ago in an effort to bring the joy of reading to community residents both young and old.
All of the bookmobile’s 21 stops service preschools, day cares and Head Start classes.
“A lot of times, the teachers bring the kids out [to the bus],” said Andrew Hunt, executive director of the library. “They know the area they can go to. There is an excitement to get their book.”
He added every child receives a stamp on their hands.
The library purchased the bookmobile in an effort to maintain a service once provided by the state.
According to Hunt, the state’s fleet of bookmobiles stopped at various points throughout the city and county. The service ended in 2003.
Hunt, a former bookmobile librarian, sprang to action. He said he understood the effectiveness of the low-cost service in the community. A small staff of one to two employees allows the possibility of existing on a “shoestring budget.” When the state ended the service, the local library began its own.
The bookmobile originally served both preschools and communities around town.
Hunt said the latter service was cut when book returns were not forthcoming. He expressed an interest in renewing the service, if the community showed an interest.
According to Hunt, an evening community stop could possibly be added once every three weeks from 6:30 to 8:30.
Teachers and instructors at the various day cares and classes keep the books. Students and toddlers alike are given time during the day to read and share their finds. Hunt said the goal is to help children discover the joy of reading.
“A lot of times, the stops are requested. Some of the stops have been with us since the service began in 2003,” Hunt said. “And then some stops changed, because they discovered they are not using [the bookmobile] as much.”
Adults at the various stops are welcome to make use of the bookmobile. In addition to the books, patrons may also check out videos and dvds. Hunt encouraged neighbors to visit the bookmobile when it is spotted around town.
A small budget and limited time on the road, only about 15-20 hours per week, calls for strategic thinking. Routes are designed to hit as many stops as possible in a single outing. Hunt said some day cares and preschools have 100 kids come through during an hour’s visit.
A high number of visitors means a high number of books and other materials checked out. The bookmobile librarian spends a portion of the time restacking the shelves to provide new material.
Hunt said he is proud of the service being provided.
“I think we are trying to do our best with the service. I think we are using the amount of money we spend on this efficiently. We do want to get better, but I think we are using it well,” Hunt said. “I love the bookmobile because it is a one-on-one service. [Bookmobile librarians] get to know the children. They get to see them a couple of years as they go through school.”
A new bus was purchased in 2010 to replace the original bookmobile. More information on the service provided by the bookmobile can be found by calling the library at 423-472-2163.