Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Wheels On the Library Go Round

This Saturday your trusty interns ventured out to ACLA Mobile Services for a day on the Bookmobile! We rode on their "general" route, which included stops at Bon Avon, West View, and Robinson Township. There are also bookmobiles that serve preschools and senior centers. Their regular bookmobile was having some repairs done, so we were riding on a slightly older model. Despite the tight space, it was impressive how many materials the librarians managed to squeeze in!

The people who showed up to our stops (and there were a lot of them!) seemed incredibly grateful that the bookmobile came to their area. Many had placed materials on reserve and most seemed to be regular visitors, on friendly terms with the librarians. We were surprised to learn that the bookmobile waives all fines for the patrons, a great service considering the limited hours that they are able to access the bookmobile.

The mobile library runs as close to a regular library as possible; the librarian even signs patrons up for library cards. We were impressed with the teamwork of driver and the librarian. The librarian would check in the materials at the front of the mobile and give the patrons their holds, then patrons would browse the shelves and check out their materials at the back of the mobile. The librarian also had some great converstations with her library users.

The actual technology involved in running the bookmobile was very interesting. Using AT&T wireless cards, the two bookmobile computers connected to TEL-NET circulation software, allowing patrons to check materials in and out right on the bus. DVD's and Videos seemed to be the biggest circulators.