The Seattle Public Library’s Mobile Services has a sweet new ride — our first-ever electric Bookmobile.
The Library worked with the Seattle’s City Fleets to replace one of our aging Mobile Services delivery vans with a new electric Ford E-Transit. The electric van is one of four Mobile Services vehicles that brings carts of library materials into low-income senior housing, assisted living facilities and preschools.
As we celebrate Bookmobiles today with National Bookmobile Day, I am moved to share something of the little known service we provide to elder members of our community through SPL’s own Mobile Services. We bring books, movies and other goodies from the library not just to kids but also to adults who cannot get to their neighborhood library or to the Central Library. We visit over a hundred nursing homes, retirement and assisted living facilities each month, and we visit private homes.
It is a delight to be able to bring the library to folks in our community who cannot get to the library because they are no longer good on their feet or able to drive. For some, it makes it just a little bit easier to stay independent in their own houses and able to continue to pursue new or lifelong interests. It can mean staying up to date with the latest film, engaging with family through books and reading or learning how to record their personal history.
What sorts of things do we bring to people where they live? Well, everything you might go to your library to pick up – from general reading to serious research. One of the best things about visiting the library is the opportunity to explore: maybe this month you’d like to try your hand at crochet or making chocolate truffles or crocheting chocolate truffle cozies. We have a book for that. Well, maybe not the truffle cozies, but you never know! There might even be a mystery series revolving around it. We’re excited to find out and we hope to recreate that process of discovery through Mobile Services.
And does that discovery ever happen! I’ve had the pleasure of being handed a self-published memoir about growing up on Vashon Island after supplying books on memoir to a patron, or been delighted to see a new painting on the wall after being asked for books on tropical birds or even more surprised to be given a newly beaded bracelet by the patron with a passion for beadwork. And even more thrilling? To be asked, ‘I just finished reading The Hunger Games series because my grandkids love them. What should I read next?’
Seattle Public Library has been providing bookmobile service since 1931. To find out more about Mobile Services for yourself or someone you know, please call 206-386-4636 or email email@example.com.
Also, check out the outpouring of bookmobile love here:
One of the more interesting parts of my job as a librarian for Mobile Services is going on the monthly Russian Day bookmobile run. We visit six low-income housing buildings in Seattle that have a high number of Russian-speaking residents. We bring books, magazines, and movies in Russian and, most importantly, Leszek, a librarian from the Central Library who specializes in serving Seattle’s Russian-speaking community.
Sometimes, though, Leszek goes on vacation. This is when things can get tricky. Finding the right books for a patron can be difficult in English, but it is especially challenging when there is a language barrier and you can’t even read the titles of the books because your knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet is, shall we say, a trifle limited. That is when the cover art comes in handy. Sort of.
Cookbooks, computer instruction books, and the like are easy to pick out. If the book is a translation of an American novel, it can have the same cover art as the English version. Historical romances frequently feature bodices being ripped, and if there is a guy in a trench coat with a gun on the cover, it is a safe bet that it is a detective novel. Some things, however, do not translate so easily between cultures.
Looking for a book for these last few weeks of summer? Here are 12 suggestions from Library users from Mobile Services and the Ballard, Broadview and University branches:
Mobile Services’ readers suggest: Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World by Bill Clinton
He tells all of us how we can really help save the world by giving what we have to give. I think high schools should all teach a class on it.
The Color of Water by James McBride
An extreme story of a family that could well be a story of the mixed cultures of America! It is touching the way the son pursues information of his mother’s heritage. It is also touching how she inspires her children to become educated and really live. What a tribute – a wonderful read!