Oh, the places it will go: Summit County Library’s Bookmobile serves up books to hundreds
Quinn McCooey, a student in Jessica Huser’s fourth-grade class at the Park City Day School, is excitedly standing in line on the Summit County Library Bookmobile as librarian Linda Bliss orders “The Nightmare King,” the third book in “The Last Kids on Earth” young-adult, post-apocalyptic zombie series by Max Brallier.
“I have read the first two, but I just moved here from New York a month ago, and I only have a few books at my house right now,” McCooey said. “So I’m glad I can check out the book I need at the Bookmobile.”
This is the second time McCooey has climbed aboard the Bookmobile, which makes a Park City Day School stop every other Monday.
The school is not the only stop Bliss makes throughout the county.
In addition to visiting the North Summit and South Summit school districts and the county’s Montessori schools, the Bookmobile pulls into parking lots of assisted living facilities, private homes to serve the homebound, a handful of churches and parks, and even the Oakley Town Hall, Bliss said.
“In conjunction with the library’s mission, which is to ignite curiosity, support community and advance knowledge, the Bookmobile gets the books and materials of the library out into the community,” she said. “The Park City Day School is a great example, because this is a school without its own library, at the moment, so we become its library.”
The Bookmobile served 724 people last month and, Bliss said, that was a smaller number than usual because she didn’t venture into Park City due to the Sundance Film Festival.
“We usually reach around 1,000 people through our scheduled stops every week,” she said.
Bliss, who replaced three-year Bookmobile librarian Shaylee Phelps in September, said the biggest challenge is driving the small, RV-sized vehicle.
“This is my seventh day out on my own, and I’ve never driven anything so large before,” Bliss said with a cheerful smile.
That challenge is outweighed by her interactions with Bookmobile patrons.
“Since we do regular stops, I’ll get to know them all very well,” she said. “And I do like that I get to meet people who are a variety of ages.”
The Bookmobile serves students from preschool to fifth grade at the Park City Day School, and Bliss said that, by visiting assisted living facilities, she can theoretically serve people who are 100.
The Bookmobile may contain up to 3,000 books during each visit, but it also has an additional 2,000 in its full collection, according to Bliss.
“We rotate the books out when we plan each visit,” she said. “And when the seasons change, I will pull out the books that deal with winter and replace them with summer books.”
Readers also help Bliss decide what books she will stock.
“They’ll come and look around, and if they can’t find a book they want to read, they’ll request it,” she said.
McKinsey Darling, another Park City Day School fourth-grade student, recently requested a book.
She asked Bliss to order “The Defiant,” the second installment of Lesley Livingston’s “The Valiant” young-adult fantasy series.
Although the Bookmobile didn’t have that book on the shelves, Darling is confident she will get to start reading it in a couple of weeks.
“It’s cool that the Bookmobile comes to our school every two Mondays where we can check out a book and read it,” she said. “I also like that if we’re not done with the book in the next two weeks, we can tell Ms. Linda that we want to keep reading it until we’re done. Then we can pick out another one.”
Darling’s teacher, Jessica Huser, said her 13 students look forward to the Bookmobile pulling into the school’s parking lot.
“We’ll bring the students out, and many of them already know what books they want to read,” she said. “So they’ll check those out, and then go back to the class for quiet reading.”
Quiet reading, which is part of Huser’s curriculum, is held every Monday, she said.
“It’s really special, because the Bookmobile gives them something new,” she said. “They can explore a book they haven’t yet delved into.”
The Bookmobile is also a good way to introduce students to the ins and outs of checking out books, said Ian Crossland, Park City Day School’s head of school.
“It’s also a great resource for us, a relatively small school, to have that connection with the greater library system,” he said.
While Park City Day School is in the midst of building its own library to become an international baccalaureate school, Crossland said he plans to continue the school’s relationship with the Bookmobile, which started seven years ago.
“It’s not going to be either, or,” he said. “Why not have both, going forward?”
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