Thriving by Revitalizing: Santa Clara City Library

The City of Santa Clara Renews Commitment to Providing Bookmobile Services


The city of Santa Clara is rapidly expanding with a refreshed approach to how it services its community. When a proposal was received for a new apartment and business complex that would reinvigorate the community with new residents, they felt it was the perfect opportunity to revive the city’s defunct bookmobile program. Paul Sims, the Director of the Santa Clara City Library, jumped at the chance to revitalize this service for the city of Santa Clara in a fun, new way.

According to Sims, Santa Clara’s library had a bookmobile program starting in the 1960s that ran until 2003. Due to the changing demographics of the community and an aging vehicle, the service was no longer thriving and the bookmobile program was discontinued. In 2017, a developer proposed the idea of an apartment and business complex that would also provide library services to the growing community. Sims already had experience running the bookmobile service at Mountain View Public Library and felt he could help the new program succeed while meeting the needs of the people in the Santa Clara community. Since the bookmobile has been in service, Sims estimates they see between 3,500-4,500 patrons a month. This number continues to grow and nearly doubles during the different community events they attend.


Out and About

With a varied mix of stops, the main focus of the bookmobile’s service plan is the four schools they visit each week in the afternoon. They also emphasize the importance of summer reading for these school-aged children and visit many summer camps around the area. One unique stop on the bookmobile’s route is City Hall during lunch hours. With many patrons being working parents unable to visit a brick-and-mortar library during operational hours, they have a chance to check-out books for themselves and their children. The staff also hosts themed events to entice people out of their cubicles such as International Coffee Day or the chance to join a rousing game of frisbee, among many others. The bookmobile helps the library contribute to charity by auctioning off ride-alongs as well, offering people the chance to experience the route firsthand for a good cause.


Favorite Features

When asked if there were certain features the library was adamant about integrating into their bookmobile, Sims jumped at the chance to acknowledge the rooftop solar panels.

“The solar panels were really important to us because we wanted to keep the vehicle charged while remaining environmentally conscious,” said Sims.

Since the solar panels help supplement the power, the diesel 12-kW generator doesn’t have to run as often. He also mentioned how the exterior TV comes in handy for events they host.

“We can use the monitor to conduct drawing classes and demonstrations. For instance, we’ve used it to teach others how to draw caricatures when we hosted our own unique version of ‘ComicCon’,” explained Sims.

He also called attention to what a great tool it is when the library hosts any game show-style events, shows movies while at a stop, or plays slide shows to educate the public on the different programs they offer.


Serious Features, Serious Fun

The Santa Clara City Library chose a Freightliner® MT-55 forward control chassis for their vehicle. The bookmobile includes dual function seats which swivel and serve as chairs for the front check-out station. Dual curb-side entrances each have an automatic entry step with stainless steel handrails so even the smallest readers can safely board. A handheld wireless microphone system comes in handy, especially when busting out tunes for another edition of “Bookmobile Karaoke,” which is one of the biggest things they do with their bookmobile. An electric awning keeps the exterior TV and entry way protected from inclement weather while providing plenty of shade from the California sun. Designed by a local graphic designer/comic book artist, the vehicle is finished off with a colorful, bold wrap that perfectly demonstrates the creativity and imagination found within the books onboard. For a fun vintage touch, the bookmobile can sound its old fashioned “Oooga!” horn to let everyone know that it is ready for business.


Read more about the Santa Clara City Library’s bookmobile by clicking the link below or viewing their Facebook page which includes some of their “Bookmobile Karaoke” videos. Learn more about LDV-built bookmobiles by visiting our website or ">contact Cory Weithaus to find out how to create a custom bookmobile for your library’s program.

Learn more about their bookmobile ➡️ HERE


Congratulations to the Santa Clara City Library on winning the California Library Association’s PR Excellence Award for their revitalized bookmobile service, including Bookmobile Karaoke!