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JVB Library looks to expand Bookmobile campaign

The Bookmobile campaign, which was launched last year, was highlighted as a top priority for this year by Barbara McGary, executive director of the James V. Brown Library.

Plans are to fundraise this year, purchase the vehicles in 2021 and implement programs in 2022.

McGary made the comments during the annual review of the library for 2019 which she shared with the Board of Trustees at its meeting Thursday. She noted the campaign has already raised $99,000 towards the $500,000 needed to purchase three vehicles to replace the single Bookmobile that is currently in service.

“Our Bookmobile campaign is to really revolutionize our outreach services for a new service model. Retiring our 2010 bus and to be able to develop a service where we can meet our outreach mission to go where the people are and to develop deep connections with people in our community,” she told the board.

“When we have a large bus — one vehicle, one driver — we cannot go into the facilities. We cannot engage with our senior care facilities, our daycare facilities. We cannot reach the rural population because it is not an efficient vehicle. But with three separate specialized vehicles we can go and engage. This is our mission for our Bookmobile campaign,” she added.

She noted that the campaign committee has been meeting monthly to strategically go after the money needed for the vehicles. The timeline for the campaign outlined by McGary is for an ongoing community needs assessment to continue in order to evaluate current partners for mutually beneficial services as well as working with potential partners, such as childcare facilities, to determine their needs.

McGary also reported on capital improvements made to the library last year in order to make the facility “more welcoming and safe.” Some of the main goals completed were replacement of the roof on the fourth floor vintage area and installing a new security system and door people counters to track how the library is being used.

Under the heading of lifelong learning, McGary said that the library builds its programming on PA Forward Five Literacies, which includes basic literacy, health for learning to manage personal well-being, information literacy, civic and social for learning the role as a citizen and financial help.

“Everything we do is tagged from one of these literacies,” she said.

McGary outlined cost-saving measures the library has taken over the past year which include outsourcing security, web design and maintenance and book processing. Investing in and marketing fee-based services, such as the passport program, was also enhanced last year according to McGary. During the financial report at the meeting, it was noted that the passport program had brought in over $78,000 in revenue for the library last year.

Looking ahead to this year, McGary detailed some of the focus areas listed in the report, in addition to the Bookmobile campaign. They include: enhancing the STEAM and lifelong learning opportunities in order to connect with diverse populations and vulnerable citizens; continuing to grow as a sustainable organization with fund development, advocacy, volunteer and staff development, digitization of organization and historical documents and continuing to improve library spaces with capital and facility improvements.

The next meeting of the board will be at noon, Feb. 20 in the library’s Lowry Room.

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