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National Bookmobile Day; Lake Travis Community Library

2018 April 11
by Kyla Hunt

Today is National Bookmobile Day! We have been highlighting a few of the fantastic bookmobile programs throughout Texas. Today we are focusing on the Lake Travis Community Library!

Lake Travis Bookmobile Could you provide a brief history of your library’s bookmobile program?
Our bookmobile program started as an outcome of our library’s long-range plan as a way to serve patrons in the farthest reaches of our library district, which covers 102 square miles. After much research in vehicles, the bookmobile was purchased in 2016 and started service in September of that year. We reached out to the community to gauge interest and need for a bookmobile service in different areas, and we are now currently serving a mixture of neighborhoods, RV parks, food pantries, preschools, and assisted living facility stops over a two-week period.

How many books does your bookmobile circulate annually?
In our first year of service, we circulated approximately 20,000 items, signed up almost five hundred new library accounts, and approximately 10,500 people walked through the door of our bookmobile at regular stops and special events.

Did you obtain any grants to get your bookmobile program off the ground?Lake Travis Bookmobile
We were fortunate enough to receive the Texas State Libraries and Archives Commission Special Projects Grant for the salary of an outreach librarian and in the second year, an outreach assistant. We also received a Texas Book Festival Collections Enhancement Grant for a starting collection for the bookmobile. Our local Rotary Club also supported the bookmobile by purchasing signage and promotional materials.

In your experience, does the bookmobile appeal more to children? To the elderly? To everyone?
The bookmobile definitely appeals more to children, partly because it seems fun to smaller patrons to board a truck and get a book, and the experience sometimes comes with hand stamps and snacks (when their parents say it’s ok). But the elderly appreciate the service as well when books and library materials are brought to their assisted living facility, along with a friendly face and good conversation. We’d love to think the bookmobile appeals to everyone.

What feedback have you received from your community regarding your bookmobile?
Patrons who visit the bookmobile tell us they enjoy the service and love seeing the bookmobile driving around on the roads. Our main library circulation and patronage has increased in the time the bookmobile has been in service, hopefully due in some part to the bookmobile advertising library service. We have heard the bookmobile collection feels less overwhelming than the main library collection, though of course the main library has a larger selection. We have many families who regularly visit the bookmobile, which we take as a sign that they enjoy the service. We hear from our preschools that the kids look forward to bookmobile day and have fun reading their new books after their visit.

What does the future look like for your bookmobile program? Do you anticipate expanding it or maintaining it?
We are certainly maintaining the stops we have, which seem to be doing well and appear to be appreciated by the community. We hope to expand to more stops as our community grows, and hopefully we can attend more special events as well. We would like to add more programming at various stops and hopefully introduce more curriculum at schools when appropriate. The possibilities are endless!

Do you think bookmobiles are regaining popularity in Texas? If so, why?
It certainly feels like bookmobiles are regaining popularity in Texas as we hear about more programs starting in the Central Texas area. It also seems like bookmobiles are following a general trend toward more home delivery service in all life services, such as grocery stores, online purchases, etc. Bookmobiles are a good outreach vehicle (no pun intended!) for getting the word out in the community about the library and taking library resources to where people live. If someone forgets to return an item, they can run home and get it while the bookmobile is still at their stop. We love seeing the faces of new patrons when they realize how many resources are available through their local library!

Does your library have a bookmobile program that you would like to share? Do so in the comments!

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