Summit County bookmobile continues to roll along
A relic of frontier life is making a comeback in rural Summit County.
The Summit County Library Bookmobile is a rolling library inspired by the American School Library that brought literature to isolated communities in the West in the 19th century, and Outreach Librarian Shaylee Phelps is keeping the tradition alive in 2018.
“I think the biggest misconception I witness is the astonishment that bookmobiles still exist,” Phelps said. “It seems bookmobiles are often viewed as an old fashioned concept; however, bookmobiles are still around and serving their community.”
The Summit County Library bookmobile’s main goal is to provide library service to rural parts of Summit County until fixed-site libraries are developed.
Although the Library celebrated the grand opening of the new Kamas Branch a few weeks ago, the bookmobile is still as busy as ever, said Phelps.
“Now that Kimball Junction, Kamas, and Coalville each have a library, the bookmobile is able to provide more outreach,” Phelps said.
The bookmobile, which has about 5,200 books in its collection, makes stops to the (county’s) senior centers and Elk Meadows Assisted Living, and visits a number of private schools that don’t have a school library.
“When it comes to funding and budget cuts, school libraries are usually first on the chopping block,” Phelps said. “Early literacy is very important, and the bookmobile can become a valuable resource to these schools.”
The bookmobile also provides story times at community parks for the public during the summer, and it allows Phelps to take the books to the people, instead of having the people go to the books.
“This is very helpful and convenient in situations where the patron is disabled or elderly and venturing to the library can be quite difficult,” she said. “
The bookmobile visits the rural communities of Henefer, Wanship, Oakley, Francis and Woodland and Silver Creek on a regular schedule, Phelps said.Upton, Hoytsville, Echo and Peoa are possible future stops.
“Community stops — what I refer to them as — are anywhere from one to two hours,” she said.
Phelps loves how excited children get when they find a book that interests them, and she enjoys watching them develop a love for reading. She also looks forward to her interaction with the bookmobile’s homebound patrons.
“It’s heartwarming to know that their love for reading doesn’t have to suffer due to lack of mobility,” she said. “In the end, when you love what you do, going to work doesn’t really feel like work.”
The Summit County bookmobile’s history reaches back to the mid-1970s, when it joined with Rich County to become the Summit/Rich Bookmobile, headquartered in Coalville.
Later that year, the Summit County and Rich County bookmobile services separated.
“In 2007 the state sold the bookmobile to Summit County, and the county continued to provide bookmobile services on its own,” Phelps said. “Summit County purchased a new bookmobile which was delivered in the late summer of 2009.”
Four years later, Summit County opened a new bookmobile to replace the original, which was in need of repairs.
“Sarah Holden was commissioned to design the wrap for the (new) bookmobile,” Phelps said.
Throughout the past two years, Phelps has had to answer many questions, especially ones asked by children.
“I do not live on the bookmobile; I do not have to park the bookmobile at my house at night,” she said with a laugh. “The books rarely fall off the shelves when I drive, and don’t worry, I will not drive the bookmobile around while you’re inside.”
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