Alamance County Public Libraries (ACPL) could be coming to you very soon, as the ACPL prepares to re-launch their Mobile Library this fall.
From the 1940s to the 1980s, ACPL ran a mobile library which went around Alamance County bringing the library to families, instead of having families come to the library. Now, 40 years later, they’re doing it again.
The library began the process of bringing the Mobile Library back roughly four years ago, and it was scheduled to return last summer before the pandemic prevented that from happening.
ACPL Director Susana Goldman said the idea for the return of the Mobile Library came from looking at trends and listening to the community’s wishes.
“We started to notice that more and more often our community is interested in opportunities where we can go to them, instead of them always having to come to the library to get the resources,” Goldman said. “Some of that is from technology advancements and ease of access for technology; some of that is just for convenience’s sake, they prefer to not have to go as far to get what they're looking for. So, those conversations came up, over and over and over again, for us and so we started exploring.”
In the four years since they hatched the idea, ACPL has been working out the details for the mobile library to ensure they can make it happen. This October, the ACPL Mobile Library will roll out into the community; currently, the plan is to run the Mobile Library for an entire day each month.
For some, the library is too out of the way; for others, getting transportation to the library is impossible. Goldman said whatever the reason, the ACPL Mobile Library will be there to serve whoever needs it.
“We make no assumptions of why they would prefer us to come to them instead of them coming to us – just because its ease, because it's convenient, because that's the only opportunity they have,” Goldman said. “Getting out there being visible is super important for the library, but then to be able to connect people with the resources or the technology, in some small ways as well.”
There are a variety of ways the Mobile Library will positively impact Alamance County. One way is to help bridge the digital divide by providing internet access for those who may not have it.
“The bookmobile is a way for us to be able to get into the community, provide internet for people who need it, possibly provide technology for people to use temporarily while we're there,” she said.
Aside from the Mobile Library providing internet access when it comes around, mobile hotspots will also be available to rent from the bookmobile for up to a month. Goldman said this helps to provide those lacking internet access with a longer-term solution.
She added that she wished ACPL could’ve gotten the Mobile Library in service last year, at the height of the pandemic. However, with the Delta variant on the rise, now is a perfect time to start it up, as well.
Individuals, neighborhoods and organizations can apply to have the Mobile Library come to a requested location, and it will come if it is feasible, and time allows. Those interested in having the Mobile Library come to them can fill out an application on the ACPL website or pick one up from a library.
“For us to at least harbor the idea of it, there are some criteria to meet because it is a large vehicle, we have to be able to get in and out of spaces with convenience and the roads have to be proper,” Goldman said. “But we are open to any type of entity that is willing to partner with us, to have us come out there [to them].”
So far, the interest in the Mobile Library is through the roof, as ACPL has received numerous applications and requests from area charter schools, after school programs and various parks and community centers to name a few.
“We hope to be all over the community – rural, urban, wherever we need to be,” Goldman said.
The library is planning a soft opening for the Mobile Library in September. In October, there will be a formal kickoff event and the Mobile Library’s schedule will be released.