Flexibility is the key descriptor of our New Bookmobile — The Possibility Machine! What makes it a Possibility Machine? This new vehicle enables us to deliver services with more flexibility because…
It is smaller, yet, in many regards has more capacity than our old model. It now addresses some of the key barriers to access that our current customers have and it will do it at a lower cost than a like for like replacement would. Finally, it gives us the opportunity to work more closely with our public library partners to allow them to do their own outreach efforts, whether it is at special events such as festivals or fairs, or a regular visit to a local school or assisted living facility.
A key feature of the new Bookmobile is that much of the collection is on wheeled carts that can be moved on and off of the vehicle. This allows the makeup of the collection of books to change from day to day depending upon the customer profile of our stop locations. Taking the carts off of the Bookmobile and moving them inside will eliminate the need for people to climb up steps or face icy sidewalks inviting more participation at each location.
Let’s explore some scenarios for service:
The retirement or assisted living facility–
The Bookmobile staff arrives at a scheduled location. Since the Bookmobile will be visiting seniors for the day, the staff has loaded 6 library carts with best-sellers in fiction and non-fiction, Large Print, Audio Books, and other materials they know will be popular with our Seniors. The carts will be taken off of the bookmobile with a lift and pushed inside the lobby or a designated room at the facility. Residents of the facility will be able to browse the collection on the carts or make special requests. If they need to rest, they’ll be able to sit or go back to their room or apartment without worrying about falling down steps or slipping on an icy sidewalk. At first they are skeptical. Before they had an entire Bookmobile to browse, but they quickly realize just how many books a library cart can hold, and what’s more, the carts actually hold only materials they are interested in. According to Allegheny County Library System, they circulate 60% more materials using this model of service.
The Preschool/Daycare Center-
Previously, the former Bookmobile allowed preschoolers to get on board, find a seat, listen to a story, select books and then leave until the next visit. But let’s be honest, the previous Bookmobile did not provide an optimal educational setting. With the diesel generator and air conditioners running, it was very difficult for people to hear, and the available seating meant that kids at the end of the row weren’t able to see or hear. With our new Bookmobile, we push loaded book carts into the classroom where we can take advantage of their classroom space for story time and still give the children the opportunity to select books. We’ve already developed plans to modify one of our book carts into a puppet theatre that can be used on special occasions and plan to develop other theme related carts as well.
The Neighborhood Stop-
If you’ve ever visited the bookmobile while we are in a rural area, you know that some of the stops can get extremely busy. Many of these stops are frequented by the Amish who have interest in a particular type of book that is unique. We formerly handled this by bringing along crates of books filled with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and older series that no longer have cachet elsewhere. The good news is that we can now use our new Bookmobile as a traditional bookmobile in rural locations such as fire halls or country stores. The even better news is that we can customize our collection on a daily basis so that we’ll have along more of the books that our readers for that day will enjoy.
The Pop-up Library or Book Sale-
Our new bookmobile is slightly smaller and more maneuverable. It also has an awning that will allow us to move our collection outside in places such as farmers’ markets, village fairs and celebrations, and special events of all types. We can imagine setting up our own little Bookmocafe, or a popup maker space. Better yet, the new Bookmobile is simple enough that it could be operated by Public Library partners with very little training. We could move our book carts off and the library could move their carts on for special outreach events on their calendar.