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Bookmobile drives far and stays close to bring services to county residents

PHOTO PROVIDED Nina White works at the James V. Brown Library’s Bookmobile at a Saturday growers market in the municipal parking lot at Hepburn Street and Little League Boulevard.

In the summer of 2019, you may have noticed something different at the Williamsport Growers Market each month.

That’s because the James V. Brown Library brought the Bookmobile to the market on the last Saturday of each month to bring books, movies and more to those walking by.

The Bookmobile was staffed inside by Dana Brigandi, marketing and adult programming manager, who signed up families for library cards, checked out materials, and renewed items for patrons. The cool air conditioning also made the Bookmobile the perfect spot to sit down and read a story.

Outside, the vehicle was staffed by the youth services department, who brought library information, books, games and STEM activities for children. The activities were designed to support the summer learning theme and provide an opportunity for children to learn through play.

“The Youth Services Department had been providing monthly programming during the summer at the Growers Market for eight years,” said Nina White, youth services manager. “Beginning in 2019, we could expand our services to be inter-generational and to allow people to return books when the library wasn’t open.”

This summer, it wasn’t safe to bring the Bookmobile to the Growers Market, but it is still a library goal to continue bringing mobile outreach services where the people are.

In late 2019, the library launched a “Bookmobility” campaign to transform mobile outreach services in Lycoming County.

The current vehicle is more than 10 years old and its size makes it difficult to navigate small parking facilities and narrow county roads.

“Our outreach mission is to go where the people are, to establish deep connections with the people we serve, to bring life-changing stories and knowledge of the outside world to those with mobility and transportation issues, to foster the love of reading, and bring opportunities for lifelong learning to rural citizens and the people that need us the most,” said Barbara S. McGary, executive director of the library. “As we considered replacing the aging vehicle, we saw that our patrons would be better served by smaller, more efficient vehicles targeted to specific audiences.”

In 2019, the Bookmobile traveled 6,011 miles, according to Kevin Renehan, outreach manager at the library. Having multiple, more fuel-efficient vehicles means the library can increase its range of services in the community.

“We want all of the community to see and recognize the library in the community – such as parades and community events that feature the Storymobile and the Bookmobile – and we want to keep growing our outreach services,” White added.

You can support the library’s Bookmobility campaign by donating online at https://jvbrown.edu/bookmobile-donation/ and make a difference for Lycoming County residents who use and love mobile library services.

All Bookmobile and Storymobile services are limited during these uncertain times, but book deposit deliveries are still being made to participating facilities.

The James V. Brown Library is open for browsing and holds pick up from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. To place a hold, visit www.jvbrown.edu or call 570-326-0536 during the library’s operating hours. The library also is open for public computer usage and for services such as printing, faxing, copying and scanning. Passport services are available by appointment.

The James V. Brown Library, 19 E. Fourth St., Williamsport, Pa., is the place to go to learn, connect and grow. Founded in June 1907, the library champions the love of reading, opens new doors to lifelong learning, provides a haven to those who seek and ensures the preservation of public library services for future generations. The library has more than 225,000 visitors in a year and circulates a half-million items annually. A member of the Lycoming County Library System, the James V. Brown Library participates in PA Forward, a statewide initiative to promote literacies in our communities to power a better future for everyone.

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