Oh, What a Book-iful Mornin’
Tulsa City-County Library Champions Bookmobiles as Vital Community Assets
The Tulsa City-County Library has a storied history of servicing its communities through the use of bookmobiles. A clear plan of action to assist their communities has allowed them to leverage their bookmobiles and bring literacy and wonder to those who may otherwise go without.
Since their first librarian, Miss Alma McGlenn, commissioned their first bookmobile in the 1930s, Tulsa’s library has worked tirelessly to bring literature to those around the state of Oklahoma while reminding patrons that the library is always there for them. The library’s first bookmobile went everywhere from public parks and shopping centers to schools and municipal swimming pools. Today, they have three bookmobiles visiting more than forty sites across Tulsa County, equating to more than 750 miles traveled each month! Already serving a monthly average of 1,000 people, the library hopes to eventually add more sites to their roster in the future. When you add in community events they participate in such as Christmas parades and Touch-A-Truck events, the number of patrons served each month grows even higher.
Tracy Scott, the Manager of Literacy, Outreach, and Volunteer Services (LOVS), has worked with the library for over twenty years in many different positions and her passion for her work is contagious. She says it is a privilege for her and the library staff to travel to patrons’ spaces and educate them about the library and the services it offers. She also loves how she has been able to see and interact with so many parts of the community. While numerous patrons may remember using a bookmobile as a child, many don’t realize these vehicles are still vital pieces of communities all across the country.
“This has been the best library job I’ve ever had. It’s given me a fulfilling career and we really get to help people, even in some ways we may not know.” – Tracy Scott, Manager of Literacy, Outreach, and Volunteer Services (LOVS)
LDV built the most recent bookmobile for the Tulsa City-County Library. For this vehicle, they chose a Ford E450 commercial cutaway chassis which allows staff members to drive it without a CDL. An automatic electric steel entry step provides easy access to little readers. Inside, white powder coated Acore® bookshelves house their materials and sit at a level that is easily accessible for younger readers. A rear access wheelchair lift with a custom-fabricated door holder helps all patrons enjoy the inside of the bookmobile. A self-checkout station has also been added by the entry door. A Dometic® Weather Pro™ retractable awning provides shade and coverage from inclement weather while a Zone Defense® color backup camera system provides assistance with parking duties.
“It was such a wonderful experience with LDV; you have a fabulous team that is amazing to work with. We are so pleased and happy with this vehicle and our experience.” – says Tracy
The library’s LDV-built bookmobile hosts their “Reading Road Show” which services early childhood and preschool centers daily, sometimes twice a day. This bookmobile serves as a welcoming gateway to the public library system for children between 3-4 years old who may not visit the library consistently, if at all. The staff conducts story time, called “Build a Reader,” which helps foster early childhood literacy and models behaviors and strategies for caregivers to utilize as well. Classes are able to visit the bookmobile and check out the materials that have been stocked on the vehicle for them. Caregivers can board and check out materials from the bookmobile to help enrich their programs as well.
Another of Tulsa’s bookmobiles has been in operation since 2017 and serves adults and seniors in the morning including those living in retirement centers, assisted living facilities, and independent living centers. In the evening, it travels to serve families and kids after school, making sure to stock a variety of materials for everyone. It also serves social service agencies, domestic violence shelters, and food pantries helping patrons to reconnect with the library. The “Imagination Station,” whose moniker was the winner of a community naming contest, is another Tulsa bookmobile that was actually modeled after the Penguin book truck. This vehicle attends community events and also hosts a series in May and June called “Storytime in the Park” where patrons can check out books and movies while enjoying performers from the summer reading programs. Much like a food truck, patrons walk up to the flip-up sides and can sit at café tables to enjoy their materials.
Tulsa City-County Library continues a legacy of greatness with their heavily-involved bookmobile programs. Find out more about the library and the services they offer by visiting their website. To learn more about this and other LDV-built bookmobiles, visit our website or speak with Cory Weithaus to inquire about procuring a new bookmobile for your library today.