Wednesday wasn’t the best weather to have an outdoor birthday party. But parked outside the Traverse Area District Library main building was the guest of honor – a new ‘Bookmobile.’
April 6 is Library Outreach and Bookmobile Day for the American Library Association. It was a good reason to throw a party celebrating the library’s new Bookmobile – a project the library has been working on for several decades.
“We had a director named Mike McGuire who helped make this building happen,” says Marketing and Communications Manager Heather Brady, referring to the main building on Woodmere Ave. “Actually the Bookmobile was on his wish list as well and when I started in June of 2020 we took a staff poll and we asked staff to vote on things that they thought were most important to them. Twenty years later a Bookmobile was still the most important thing.”
The library staff really noticed a need during the pandemic.
“It really drove home how difficult it is for some people to reach a library building even when it’s not a pandemic,” says Brady. “If your a child you can’t always get a ride. If you’re a senior maybe you don’t feel like driving in bad weather or you feel like Traverse City is too far and you can’t make any of our other branches either so with the Bookmobile we can get materials to people where they are.”
Rotary Charities helped to make it a reality, but it took a year for the decorated Dodge Ram van to arrive due to supply chain issues. It’s still not quite ready to serve in the many roles it’s pre-destined for.
“It’s not entirely finished on the inside yet,” says Brady. “We’re going to put a hotspot in. It will be able to serve anybody within its vicinity with Wi-Fi. It will have a laptop in it to check out books. Then depending on where we’re going that will depend on what we put inside. So it might have books. It might have STEM kits. It might have a 3-D printer. It might have computers if we’re going to a job fair. It might have large print and audio books if we’re going to the Senior Center. It could have local history and genealogy in it.”
Though it’s not ready for intended use quite yet, the Bookmobile will be running special errands around town until it can be finished.
There’s also a chance to celebrate Bookmobile Day again on Saturday, April 9 at the Traverse Area District Library main building at 11 a.m.