Thursday, June 2, 2011

Books with Wheels

I loved going to the library as a child. I have fond memories of carrying out as many books as I could carry. I always planned to visit the library with my children.

Then I had four children in five years. Going to the library became complicated. How do you balance a baby, diaper bag, watch the toddler, while helping the older two find a book? And forget visiting the adult section for a book for yourself.

I'm not comfortable allowing my children to roam free in the library. Once they are past the page ripping, book pulling, screeching-on-the-top-of-their-lungs stage, it doesn't get easier. I now have a voracious reader. Call me paranoid, but many (most) of the library's books are not fit to read. Even our small town library has a child's picture book promoting the "alternative lifestyle".

Since my children were small, I've been visiting used book sales, scarfing up the old favorites that libraries are discarding to build our own family library. If you walk into our house, there is no doubt that we love and read books. But still, it is fun to find new books, especially when researching a particular topic.

Since going to the library with four children was deemed impossible, Ed would sometimes pick up books for me at the library near his job. If I would search the library catalog online and write down the number, he could find the books I wanted over his lunch break. But this winter that library closed for renovations and I was left searching for another option.

My mom used to take us to the bookmobile. I decided to see if the bookmobile had a stop near me. It did! The bookmobile has been the perfect fit for our family.

The bookmobile is a bus that has been fitted with shelving. Our bookmobile route comes near us every other week. Other routes are once a month. Obviously the selection of books is limited. But with the limitation comes the freedom that I can't lose my children when there is no place for them to go!

I can't speak for every bookmobile but our librarian is very helpful. I access the library system catalog online at home at my leisure, sort through books from the libraries in two counties. I select the books I want and they bring them (almost to my door) the next time they visit my route. I get to come, pick up my pre-selected books, browse a little on the shelves, and depart before someone has a melt down.

The one disadvantage is the time constraint. The bookmobile is on a tight schedule and is only at my stop for about 20 minutes. If I can't make it at that time, I have to wait until the next visit. The up side is that they give long amounts of time to return the books and are very lenient on overdue books.

I don't know how many areas have a bookmobile. But I encourage you to check it out. If you are from my area, I already know that you have an excellent bookmobile available. Besides my tribe, there is only one other patron visiting the bookmobile at our stop. I can't believe it is worth their time and gas to come. On one of the last visits, I decided I would write about the bookmobile in hopes that a few more of you would utilize this service.

For some fun children's books about the bookmobile read Clara and the Book Wagon, about the very first bookmobile which happened to be in my husband's home town, and That Book Woman, a sweet story set in the mountains.

Do any of you use the bookmobile? Or is this just a crazy thing that PA does?


  1. Don't wory we have bookmobiles in OH too. not sure if the public uses them though. I know it goes to all the schools for kids to check out books. I don't let the kids run our library either. Too many bad charactered people hang out there. Be careful with your little ones.

  2. Three cheers for the bookmobile! And their fabulous librarians!!

    I'm so glad you did a post on the bookmobile - we love it, too - for the same reasons *L* (no place for the children to run and hide! and the ability to pre-select books and have them waiting).

    Oh, and the librarians get to know the patrons and sometimes set aside books they think you'll like. In some ways, that's sort of creepy (they're watching what I read), but in other ways, it's fabulous and I've read many great books that I wouldn't have normally read.

  3. We don't have Bookmobiles here. My guess due to funding. However every township has a small library although terrible hours for small children. I go to the city once a week for my folks and Always stop at the library. For DVD's as well as books I have ordered, yep like you on-line. That way i can spend time looking with the little ones. My only issue is that the library in the city is large and my little tomboy loves to run. Glad I am not the only one upset with book selections, not just in the adult section anymore but rather too many children book promoting the alternative.

    Great post.

  4. Gina,
    We have a bookmobile available within our area. Indiana! Very utilized! Also, kids love it! I can tell those cuties of you and Ed's enjoy every minute of the visit!

    Debbie S.

  5. I have never seen a bookmobile. What a great idea!!

    I love your new addition. It makes me envious! It's beautiful.

  6. That is so cool that you can pre-select books and the book mobile will bring it! We had them in MI, where I grew up. I didn't use it much because I was constantly at the regular library via my bicycle. I'm not aware of the book mobile here in IN - at least not in my little rural community. They may utilize that in the larger cities.

    My son read "Clara and the Book Wagon" this year and really liked it. It's neat that it took place in your husband's home town.

    We love the library. We have taken part in many of their programs from the time my son was a toddler. It probably helps only having one to manage while there, though. The library closest to our house right now isn't that great (we can walk there) so we don't go there all the time. There is one about 15 minutes from us that is much better and we usually make a weekly trip. I have noticed that they are both starting to offer books that you can check out on your computer, too. It's kind of different than actually holding the printed word in hand, but I suppose it has its place.

    Thanks for sharing about the book mobile. It took me back to my childhood. :0)

  7. My library has an online option, I can put the books on hold online, and they call me to pick them up once they arrive. It is super convenient. I just run in and hand them my card and they give me the books. You may want to see if your library offers that.

  8. We have a weekly mobile library for preschoolers that stops almost outside my house (it's called the COW bus - Classroom on Wheels). The librarian helps you pick out books and spends time with the children, reading out loud using finger puppets, felt boards and magnets that stick to the inside of the metal bus. Luckily it's also heated because I would spend the whole 90 minutes there every week when my kids were little. It was awesome for a not-so-mobile mothers of multiple preschoolers.

  9. We have a bookmobile that comes right to our house. LOVE IT!!! She comes every other week. She even does a summer reading program and crafts with our children. It is soooo convenient!
    The route in our community is mostly homeschoolers and Amish. She drives to each home on her list.

    We also go to the county library the next county over. Our children love to read and usually read everything the first day!! :)

  10. I loved the bookmobile when I was younger and dreamed of the day I would get to bring my children. It would travel from park to park and was filled with children's books. At each park they would stop for 45 minutes and read stories to us kids while we searched for books. So much fun.

    Sadly the program has changed and though they come and read stories at each stop there is only a selection of 10-15 books that the librarians have hand picked to choose from. Bummer.

    So we brave the library, but we have a fine tuned system for getting in and out!

  11. I really like our Bookmobile and the librarian! She is so helpful and patient with the children. During school months she stops at our school and during the summer she makes a stop in our local town.

  12. Oh Gina, I grew up in rural Florida and the bookmobile day was the best day of each month. I'm glad you found one nearby.

  13. That is really neat. I didn't even know book mobiles were still in service.

  14. We had bookmobiles when I was a child, but I haven't seen one here in a long time. But of course we only live about 3 miles from a very nice library, so maybe it is in the county.
    May I say you daughters look precious in their dresses!!

  15. I never heard about a bookmobile while I was growing up in Massachusetts, but it sounds great! Especially the picking out all your books online part. Because yes, it sometimes is quite the task to keep four smallish children all together! And quiet! I might have to check out this bookmobile thing. I don't think I could ever stop visiting the actual library though... there's just something special, and nostalgic, and memory-building about it. I LOVED reading as a child! (Still do!) I would spend hours and hours at our local library, sitting in a corner reading, and then I'd sit in a corner (or in a tree) at home and read for more hours and hours. Drove my mom CRAZY! =)

  16. I have a fun memory about visiting a book mobile as a child in Missouri. There is one that visits our neighborhood, but we've never checked it out. I think we might try it next week!


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