Randolph County Public Libraries' Newest "Branch"!
Read on for more Mobile Library history.
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How it all began...
One of the first tasks of the Randolph County Public Library after it was founded in 1940 was to provide a bookmobile for areas of the county not served by one of the community libraries, which by 1943 included Asheboro, Franklinville, Ramseur, Liberty and Randleman. The county library obtained a surplus bookmobile from the Works Progress Administration built on a 1938 Ford truck, and began a very successful, popular and long-lived bookmobile service. In 1956, the library upgraded to a purpose-built Gerstenschlager bookmobile, and the service continued until 1972. By that time, The bookmobile was on its last legs, and it was just too costly to replace.
Meanwhile, the library had created the Extension Services department, which delivered books in person or by mail to people who were homebound or in care institutions. So the bookmobile service ended.
Over time, demand for library outreach services through the Extension department has only increased; along the way, service to child care centers was added. Currently, Extension librarians provide monthly visits to 59 homebound clients; nine institutions; and 23 child cares and pre-Ks. They deliver reading material and programs: they present 60 children’s story times and four adult programs each month. They also make regular visits to community partners, including the Boys and Girls Clubs.
And now, 46 years after the bookmobile, we’ve become aware of a need, once again, to bring a small library experience to places where people gather – children, primarily but not exclusively – who are not easily able to visit a library, or not able at all – but who will benefit greatly from this kind of library experience. We don’t need a bookmobile, a full service library branch that goes to a region of the county, but we do need a versatile mobile library that can deliver books and programs – everything from story times and hands-on activities for kids, to computer classes for adults – to sites in the community.
Libraries coming back to bookmobiles, or mobile libraries (or sometimes they’re called “pop-up libraries”) is not unique to us; it’s a trend across state. The Randolph County Mobile Library is an extremely versatile vehicle. We invite people in to select books and other materials, or take a collection outside for people to browse. We conduct small story times or programs inside, or, in good weather we have Mobile Library events outdoors under the awning.
Our Mobile Library is a 2011 Chevrolet G4500 diesel truck that was taken out of service from the Randolph County Emergency Services fleet in October of 2018; a vehicle customization vendor removed the ambulance body and replaced it with a bookmobile body.
Initial costs were covered by two of the library’s longtime benefactors: the Acme-McCrary and Sapona Foundation and the Asheboro Public Library Foundation Inc, which supplied funds to update the vehicle, create book collections and purchase all the excess things necessary to bring a Mobile Library branch to the patrons who need it most.
The Mobile Library went into active use in May of 2019. We hear from people who fondly remember the bookmobile coming to their community back in the day. Our Mobile Library will allow us not just to provide a new generation of children – including some who will particularly benefit from this kind of library visit – with those memories but, more importantly, with a rich library experience that will help them to become lifelong library users, and lifelong learners. Look for the Randolph County Public Library system's Mobile Library in your neck of the woods, today!