Bon Temps with Bookmobiles

The Lafayette Public Library’s Bookmobile Brings the Good Times Back

Written in collaboration with Teresa Elberson, Library Director for Lafayette Public Library 

 

Nestled between the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge and the White Lakes Wetlands Conservation Area in Louisiana lies Lafayette Parish. Known for its living history museums, Southern hospitality, and love of “bon temps” or good times, the parish is a popular destination for tourists wanting to experience Cajun culture and cuisine. While it is the third smallest parish in the Pelican State, a robust population of roughly 244,000 residents and the Lafayette Public Library call it home.

Originally known as the Lafayette Municipal Library, it was founded by the state of Louisiana in 1942 and has since grown to include nine locations. In 1948, they launched their first bookmobile in an effort to provide literary equality to those within the parish. Due to an aging vehicle and an inability to locate replacement parts, the bookmobile was retired and the program was halted in the late 1990s.

 

Starting Over

While the library continued other Outreach programs, the desire to provide patrons with access to library services sparked them to obtain a new vehicle. In April of 2019, the library was able to restart their bookmobile program with the delivery of their brand new LDV-built vehicle.

 

“We missed having a bookmobile. Everyone has fond memories of visiting a bookmobile so we felt it was a good time to bring back the service in a new way. Plus, we liked the idea of the vehicle giving the library added exposure as we drive around the area,” explained Teresa Elberson, the Library Director for the Lafayette Public Library.

 

Because of the twenty-year gap in service, the library started their bookmobile program from scratch. Since putting the new vehicle in service, the main focus has been establishing regular stops and routes.

Photos provided by Lafayette Public Library

 

A Growing Schedule

Currently, Lafayette’s bookmobile visits schools, daycares, food pantries, after school programs, apartment complexes and attends different events throughout the parish. The library is also expanding to include different locations such as shopping centers and college campuses. People can also submit a request to have the bookmobile visit their location or event they are hosting.

 

“We bring books and programs to institutions that have no way to get to the library such as day cares, at-home mothers, and senior centers. We also wanted to use it as a way to reconnect with individuals that had stopped using the library,” said Elberson.

 

At its various stops, the bookmobile can provide patrons with on-site library card registration and helps them get started with eBooks, eAudiobooks, and online resources they may not be familiar with. They also use the vehicle in tandem with their regular homebound & nursing home delivery. 

Photos provided by Lafayette Public Library

 

Fulfilling a Dream

The Lafayette Public Library’s vehicle is their first brand new bookmobile, fulfilling the dream of their first Director, Lucille Arceneaux. Lafayette made sure to make their vehicle a colorful and practical platform for their program and patrons.

 

“It is the first new bookmobile our library system has ever had. It is very attractive, colorful and gets noticed everywhere we go. We bring it to community events and festivals as a way to spread the word about our library services. We even drove it in the Lafayette Christmas Parade this last year,” explained Elberson.

 

Some of the must-have features they incorporated include a wheelchair lift, exterior speakers, and wireless router to supply WiFi to patrons and staff. Providing shade was also on their list of wants, which the vibrant blue exterior awning delivers.

Photos provided by Lafayette Public Library

 

Lafayette’s bookmobile is a great example of how patrons and staff can have bon temps with library services. Visit LDV’s website to learn more about this vibrant and functional bookmobile or take a peek inside with our walkthrough video. Contact LDV to get started on your own library’s new bookmobile today.

▶️ Learn more about Lafayette’s bookmobile