A Colorful New Bookmobile for the Golden City

The San Francisco Public Library Adds an LDV-Built Bookmobile to Their Fleet

Whether you want to take in the sites and smells at Fisherman’s Wharf, break into “the Rock” better known as Alcatraz, or cruise across the Golden Gate Bridge, the city of San Francisco will never leave you scrounging for activities. However, if you should find yourself looking for something to do, one stop residents and tourists should consider is the City by the Bay’s very own San Francisco Public Library and their newest bookmobile.


Fine for Frisco

On top of its many incredible  landmarks, another feature The City  is known for are its notoriously compact and congested  streets. With a sixteen foot body, this Freightliner walk-in style van can handle the hills and tight turns without impacting the level of service the library provides to their patrons. Utilizing a smaller vehicle also aids in navigating and maneuvering some of the city’s other areas that have proven to be difficult in the past.

“Our driver was at a public park and flawlessly pulled off a 360°  turn, on a hill no less! In another bookmobile he would not have been able to do that, so we were all very impressed with the vehicle’s handling capabilities,” – Suzanne Beattie, Mobile Outreach Services Manager.

The library worked diligently to create a bookmobile that championed California’s environmental friendliness as well. Featuring four solar panels mounted to its roof, the vehicle is able to supplement electrical power rather than rely solely on the vehicle’s 10kW generator.  The Library also elected to add  skylights integrated into the roof which  provide plenty of natural light, reducing the amount of electricity used by the vehicle. On top of these features, vents were added for air circulation and recycled components were used as well to help make this bookmobile eco-friendly.


Carts for Cherry Pickin’

Between all of SFPL’s different bookmobiles, the library is able to serve between 3, 700-4, 000 patrons per  month. Depending on what stops or events the bookmobile is visiting for the day, the Library makes sure to load-up on  materials that appeal  to the demographics it will be serving. Six light blue powder-coated book carts provide SFPL a way to prep these materials ahead of time, increasing the likelihood they will  get checked out. They also make moving these materials inside and out incredibly easy, especially when used in conjunction with the wheelchair lift integrated to the rear curbside of the vehicle. Having book carts on board also enable the Library to set up outside the vehicle to help attract patrons.

“The book  carts help us with the workflow while also helping us use materials that we may have otherwise overlooked for a certain event. Being able to set up ahead of time and cherry pick what we display makes sure everything gets its time in the sun,” said Beattie.

On top of functionality, staff and patrons alike also love the fun colors integrated throughout the vehicle. From the light blue carts, to the school-bus yellow storage cabinet, the pink stowable tables and other colorful touches, SFPL’s bookmobile proves to be a real reading rainbow for patrons. Its splashy graphic wrap provides the finishing touch to this vivid vehicle’s exterior.


Commingling with the Community

While the library’s bookmobiles participate in as many local events as possible, one of Beattie’s favorites is “Sunday Streets.” This monthly event closes down different streets (and even whole neighborhoods!) to make room for families to ride their bikes or walk down the street without worrying about cars whizzing by. The hosting neighborhood typically acts as the focal point for the event while providing plenty of fun sights, sounds, and snacks for attendees.

“This is one of my favorite events the bookmobile participates in because you get exposed to so many different cultures while bringing our Library services to the community. Each neighborhood focuses on their predominant culture or a theme such as the ocean or nature. You get a chance to enjoy phenomenal food and exciting music while joining in many fun activities,” gushed Beattie.

While attending “Sunday Streets,” Suzanne and the staff help sign people up for library cards, take back returns, and check out materials. They also use this stop as an opportunity to educate attendees on the electronic resources that the SFPL has made available to them. These resources are even available to tourists and those who may live in other areas of California. This new vehicle also helps the library highlight their “MakerSpace” digital technology programs at this event. Staff set up a cart with tech gadgets such as 3D printers that the library has, creating a big draw to the vehicle while showcasing one of its fun and educational programs.


The City of San Francisco Public Library’s new bookmobile perfectly reflects the colorful city and people it services. This exciting bookmobile is an excellent example of how careful planning and design come together to create a vehicle the Library will be able to enjoy for many years to come.