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Library’s Bookmobile campaign connects readers with books

In late 2019, the James V. Brown Library, 19 E. Fourth St., launched a new “Bookmobility” campaign to transform mobile outreach services in Lycoming County.

It is a goal of the library to continue bookmobile services but in a more targeted approach. 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.”

And then we all know what happened. Earlier this year, it became unsafe to operate the Bookmobile and take it to high-risk schools and elder care facilities.

But those services are still needed, according to residents and Bookmobile patrons like Patricia Renn of the Williamsport Home Apartments.

“The Bookmobile has such an impact on all the buildings up here. People look forward to it pulling in, parking, and opening the doors every two weeks. We are lined up. There are avid readers here,” Renn said. “We have a nice library, but the Bookmobile helps us keep up with our favorite authors.”

Supporting the library’s Bookmobile campaign will help residents who are unable to physically get to the library building by providing the following:

• A newer, more efficient, and more reliable mobile library for rural citizens and others.

• A van to bring books and other materials directly into senior care facilities.

• And an additional Storymobile, to bring the library experience and age-appropriate materials to children in preschools, childcare facilities, and schools.

Bookmobiles are a cost-effective means of providing library services to large geographic areas. Bookmobiles, like libraries, continue to meet the needs of their communities by offering free access to the latest technology and materials to users of all ages. The Lycoming County Library System’s Bookmobile visits a nearly 50 sites during its two-week rotation, including senior centers, low-income housing, personal care homes, private schools and more.

“Last year we went 6,011 miles, that’s travel, year-round,” according to Kevin Renehan, outreach manager at the library. “In a county of our size – the largest in the state – mobile libraries support Pennsylvania’s initiative to provide social and civic literacy to our underserved and rural communities.”

In 2014, the Institute of Museum and National Library Services reported that there were 23 Bookmobiles in Pennsylvania, and the James V. Brown Library operates two of those with its Bookmobile and Storymobile, the early childhood vehicle that visits local childcare facilities.

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.

There are no late fees for Bookmobile items and Bookmobile materials can be returned at any county library. Visit www.jvbrown.edu/outreach-services for more information about monthly schedules.

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