Diversity & Outreach Columns ALA's Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services


Report of Annual Conference 2003 Bookmobile Sessions

By Jan Meadows, Bookmobile Supervisor, Pikes Peak Library District.

Hello Again! Welcome back to the world of Bookmobiles via the ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services web site. I hope you enjoy your visit here!

I just returned from the beautiful city of Toronto and the ALA/CLA Annual Conference, June 19 – 25. The Canadians were marvelous hosts and made my stay there absolutely perfect. The hotels and conference center were wonderful and, as each time I have attended the conference, I got my exercise traveling between the sessions and exhibits. I give the city big kudos for being relatively flat and for having beautiful weather, which made all the walking a pleasant experience!

As I told you in the last column, OLOS hosted a session about bookmobiles again this year at ALA. Linda Sperry, Mobile Services Manager at the Cleveland Public Library, Marti Goddard, Access Services Manager at the San Francisco Public Library and myself were panelists for the “Urban Bookmobiles” session. We enjoyed telling about our individual library’s bookmobile service and sharing our successes as well as our challenges. (Just think of the parking challenges in San Francisco!) As always, meeting all of the bookmobile and IT people that attended was the highlight of the session for me. There was much discussion and ideas and information flowed freely. One thing has not changed in the 16 years I have been in bookmobile service. bookmobile staff are friendly, cheerful, dedicated, flexible, knowledgeable, caring people and truly the model of what public service is all about. Business cards were gathered and a list of everyone’s name, email etc. was sent out to attendees so contact could be maintained. The bookmobile listserv address was also noted because it is an irreplaceable resource for us all.

The Public Library Association (PLA) sponsored a Bookmobile Discussion group that was small but not quiet. Have you ever met a shy bookmobiler?! There is always an instant camaraderie when two or more bookmobile people get together in a room and both the “Urban Bookmobiles” session and the discussion group were great examples of this. Individual questions were pondered and views and thoughts were expressed. Even if every solution was not found, I think everyone left knowing they were not alone in their quest for answers to providing the very best service possible.

For those of you who are already on the bookmobile listserv, you have seen a lot of discussion on it about the organization of the “Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services”. The general consensus of those I spoke with at ALA was that the listserv should remain free for everyone to participate but that the Association, through the dues of the members, supports it. Everyone was willing to pay the dues and join the Association and said they would not care that people were on the listserv who did not pay to support it. A member of the discussion group made it clear to us that not every library could afford to join. This person and their staff were using their own personal vehicles and gas to deliver books to homebound patrons because the library could not afford to do it. These are the staffs that need the support of a listserv the most, those who are committed to serving their patrons but are hindered by lack of funds. What do you think? Email me if you have an opinion on this subject or any other. I would love to hear from you at jmeadows@ppld.org. Thanks for dropping by and visiting this column and I hope you will be a regular visitor from now on!

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