If you were to consider what mobility has done for Buffalo’s food scene, what do you think it could do for other aspects of ourt lives? Take, for example, books. The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library (BECPL) has launched a brand new ‘Bookmobile’ that is essentially a library on wheels. The high tech, ADA-compliant bookmobile features 3,000 books and DVDs, a WiFi hotspot, and laptop computers. The vehicle will be making regular stops throughout the region, bringing with it the resources that people need to enhance their lives through the power of knowledge.
It is fascinating to note that bookmobiles were first introduced to Buffalo in 1947. Although popular, due to budget cuts, the mobile reading unit program was axed in 2004-2005. It’s been over a decade since any bookmobile has made an appearance in Buffalo.
This crucial reading initiative coincides handily with Buffalo’s rebirth. Buffalo is a city that is once again learning to take care of its own through numerous grassroots initiatives that are being launched on a regular basis. The bookmobile speaks to this city’s want and ability to provide the appropriate literary resources to people and communities that might not otherwise have access to the materials.
“We are so excited to get our new, customized bookmobile on the road,” said Library Director Mary Jean Jakubowski. “And, we are most grateful to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and the Erie County Legislature for approving the capital funds which allowed us to purchase this vehicle. Our plans are to be wherever our residents need us to be, particularly in communities that do not have physical libraries and in areas that do not have easy access to transportation to take advantage of all of the free services and resources libraries provide.”
“This new bookmobile is state of the art and will bring much more than books to Erie County residents. It is a mobile information center that has the latest technology, educational and recreational offerings, and other services that modern library users demand. This ‘Library on Wheels’ is an investment in our Library System that will provide enjoyment and utility far into the future,” stated Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
Fun facts about the new bookmobile:
- The bookmobile is expected to be on the road year-round. Organizations interested in learning more details or requesting a bookmobile onetime or recurring stop should call 716-858-7157 or visit the Library System website.
- The “Library on Wheels” will serve the local community, including neighborhoods without a nearby Library or those with limited public transportation. Visits throughout the region will include town centers, fire halls, day camps, festivals, and special community events. In the fall, there will be additional stops at senior centers.
- Like a traditional library, the “Library on Wheels” offers borrowing and returning of materials, access to downloadable books and music, programming, and the ability for updating one’s library account.
- Library cards will be available on the bookmobile. (A valid form of ID & proof of address is necessary.)
- The vehicle will carry approximately 3,000 reading and informational materials – including all ages – fiction, nonfiction, audiobooks, DVDs, graphic novels, picture books and chapter books.
- There will be up to 12 laptop computers available for use.
- The exterior wrap design of colorful green, purple and orange dots was created by Library Display Artist, Dawn Stanton.
- The people featured on the graphic image wrap are actual Buffalo & Erie County Public Library patrons.
- The bookmobile was custom-made based on Buffalo & Erie County Public Library specifications. The Request for Bid (RFB) was issued for submissions in April, 2015.
- Weather permitting; the bookmobile awning opens for programming and casual seating.
- The vehicle measures 30 feet long and weighs 19,180 pounds (without books & other materials in it).
- Sixty (60) gallons of diesel fuel will fill up the vehicle.
- Bookmobiles have been in service in the US for more than 100 years. According to the American Library Association, there are over 930 bookmobiles in the United States.
Lead image: Mary Jean Jakubowski, Director of the BECPL, stands inside the bookmobile