This month’s national meeting of bookmobile operators in Baton Rouge is a reminder of the important role that these libraries on wheels play in expanding library services beyond local branches.
Baton Rouge’s fleet of two bookmobiles have been roaming the streets of East Baton Rouge Parish since 2002. The library system had an earlier fleet that operated from 1949 to 1975, when the service was discontinued.
The library’s return to bookmobile service about a decade ago was part of the system’s attempt to get books into the hands of patrons who couldn’t easily visit a neighborhood branch.
The bookmobiles serve not only youngsters, but residents of retirement homes.
“Today, our two bookmobiles and several other outreach services vehicles deliver library books, present library storytimes, and even teach computer classes to more than 100 preschools, nursery schools and daycare centers each month, as well as more than 30 retirement centers, plus special visits to local schools, colleges, community centers and public events,” said assistant library director Mary Stein.
Last year, more than 179,000 library patrons in East Baton Rouge Parish were served by these mobile outreach efforts. “The demand is so great that we are in the process of procuring a third bookmobile right now,” Stein said.
That kind of outreach is critical in a state where so much work remains to be done in promoting literacy.
To bookmobile operators throughout Louisiana, we say, let the reading roll.