It was a drizzly morning when the Portland Bookmobile pulled into the parking lot at the Kennebunk Free Library this past Thursday. Since April 2013, this wonder-van has served as the focal point of Portland Public Library (PPL)’s portable library venture. This month they are visiting nearby town libraries to show off their wares and sign up new patrons.
For Rusty, it was a chance to see a modern version of one of her childhood loves; for Casey it fell under ‘anything with wheels is heaven’. The bookmobile stocks approximately 1,700 items of fiction and nonfiction, audiobooks, graphic novels, picture and chapter books and DVDs. It is wheelchair accessible, has wireless Internet and solar panels. This traveling collection fulfills part of the outreach mission of the PPL by serving areas of the city without a nearby branch; their routes take them to 20+ locations, including schools, neighborhoods, specialized care centers and events such as this. They are able to reach patrons and families who may have health challenges, transportation issues or simply no time to make the trip downtown.
The 34-foot van cost approximately $166,000 and was paid for by a combination of library funds, private investment and a $50,000 donation from Key Bank. The route schedule is posted online ( link accessible at http://www.portlandlibrary.com/locations/portable-library/l); each visit is 45 minutes.
Steve Weigle, driver and dog lover (“bring her right in, we love dogs!”) is today’s driver of this latest version of the PPL bookmobile. I asked if more adults than kids used this service. His reply? No, it was 75% kids, 25% adults – now that’s a job I might love. He tells me his wife teaches an Archiving class at UMA/ILS, in fact I hope to take her class this winter – small world (personal communication, Oct 16, 2014).
I’ve added my new library tab to my key chain (done right there via their wifi computer connection in 3 minutes) and was reminded yet again that technology is an extraordinary enhancement to the world of libraries.
Bookmobile brings books, Internet to Portland neighborhoods. (Apr 2, 2013). Received from http://www.pressherald.com/2013/04/02/new-portland-book-mobile-has-wireless-servive-solar-power/
Portable Library. (2014). Received from http://www.portlandlibrary.com/locations/portable-library/