Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Natrona County’s New Bookmobile is Eye-Catching and Practical
Casper, Wyoming is an idyllic mountain town that is home to natural and human history you can touch. For history buffs, there are plenty of attractions around the Cowboy State including the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center and the Nicolaysen Art Museum. Do you want to travel to the past? Visit Fort Caspar, which is a reconstructed 1865 military post that transports guests back to the 19th century wild west.
If you enjoy outdoor activities like mountain biking, running, fishing, and snowmobiling, then there is something for everyone around the area. Casper Mountain offers both waterfalls and ski slopes to enjoy or check out what the North Platte River, Edness Kimball Wilkins State Park, and Fremont Canyon has to offer.
If curling up with a good book is more your type of activity, the Natrona County Library has you covered.
Natrona County Library’s main focus is caring for those in their community. If you look at the bookmobile’s schedule, you’ll see numerous daycares dotting the calendar. With many school libraries facing funding cuts and daycares unable to visit brick-and-mortar branches, the library helps fill in the gaps by providing materials to these organizations. For now, only staff from the facilities are allowed on the bookmobile to collect materials. Natrona can’t wait until community patrons and children are able to freely board the vehicle and peruse at their leisure again.
“We typically provide services to at-home and regular daycares, as well as senior resident facilities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and we also partner with schools. The trend in public schools has been to scale down the libraries, so we have made the commitment to the school leadership and administration that we will help them fill the gaps and provide access to the materials and resources they need,” explained Lisa Scroggins, Executive Director of the Natrona County Library.
One of the features they were adamant about including was the wheelchair lift. This gives everyone access to the vehicle. Their previous bookmobile did not include a lift which is why they made sure to include it on their new one. The lift also assists with loading and unloading the book carts, which were another must have as well. Book carts allow the library to prepare materials days ahead or bring them to a specified area for browsing. For Natrona, the book carts get the most use when visiting the many facilities for seniors on their calendar. The carts allow staff to bring the materials to the people, making it especially easy to browse even if they have mobility issues. Natrona is looking forward to when the library will be able to provide more services in-person, especially for those with dementia.
While Natrona uses the vehicle as an outreach tool for the community it is also an invaluable marketing tool as well. While the bookmobile hasn’t been on the road for long, it has still made a noticeable impact. When speaking with Lisa, she was quick to mention how they have always incorporated visuals into their bookmobiles to serve as functioning billboards, helping to raise awareness about the library and its services.
“We use our bookmobiles as mobile billboards and conduct a lot of awareness campaigns. When we ask how people have heard about us, invariably it comes back to the bookmobile. It is so exciting to see the data back on the reactions that we get from it,” said Lisa.
The library also partners with the local community center which hosts ice skating during the winter and outdoor concerts during the summer. They have also used the bookmobile as its own booth while attending community festivals and events as well. Swag is handed out and people will show up to the vehicle to see what is available on board. Natrona is looking forward to when they can go back to full services and improving the past services they have offered as well.
The experience of creating a bookmobile can feel overwhelming when people are unfamiliar with custom vehicles. For Lisa, the process of bidding and designing a new bookmobile was a plunge into the unknown. However, working on the project with LDV helped quell any uncertainties Natrona had about the process.
The team felt they knew what they wanted but didn’t know what that meant when it came to “specing” out the truck, mentioning how the process was ultimately very friendly. One of the biggest takeaways from the experience for Lisa was the responsiveness, level of information, and active listening that Outreach Sales Specialist Cory Weithaus brought to the table during this project. This also extended to the rest of the LDV team that they worked with.
“The service and working with everyone at LDV from start to finish was a phenomenal experience. Everyone was so willing to invest time building a relationship with us. I never felt like I was being pushed into choosing a certain feature or making a decision. LDV was willing to make suggestions but ultimately left it up to us to select options and features to create the bookmobile we were envisioning. Truly, I cannot sing enough praises about working with LDV,” said Lisa.
You can learn more about the library and their outreach program HERE.