How to Open a Mobile Library
Are you interested in a rewarding summer experience? Getting books in the hands of kids during a summer break is just that and more! The day kids are out of school for the summer, many don’t pick up a book again until August or September when they return to school. The kids get into what is referred to as the “summer slide.” They don’t read and their reading skills don’t stay as sharp as if they were reading over the long summer break.
I personally found a way to keep 50-100 kids reading in my elementary school neighborhood and it has been the most rewarding experience next to motherhood!
Envision driving up to a home and hear the kids announce it on the other side of the door “the books are here” or “Mrs. Smith is here with books!” They come running out in bare feet, hopping on the hot pavement and run back in for their flip flops. They have their library books in hand and eager to check out new books again. They search for new books with excitement, but they are even more excited to see the adults delivering their books. So hugs go ‘round and smiles too. The kids’ are grateful to grab their weekly treat and off they go with books in hand. Onto the next house we drive until we have reached all the kids’ homes on our route. Not only do we get to deliver books that need to be read, but we get to keep in touch with kids over the summer! In all honesty, I am exhausted after a day of book delivery, but can’t wait to record our stats for the day. I spend the whole evening thinking about all the kids we reached that day. And I can’t wait to do it again the following week!
A Mobile Library can be started and operated by teachers, parents or community members. It can be operated on a volunteer basis or you can make a Mobile Library a summer business, especially if you live in a lucrative or populated area. You can also operate a mobile library for elderly or disabled citizens in your community, which would be equally as rewarding! This is a wonderful opportunity to give back to others.
If you are interested in starting a mobile library in your area, here is s summary of how I created and now operate a mobile library for kids during the summer:
- Plan: Identify your customers or kids that you are targeting for delivery. You will need to determine the area in which you will geographically operate, whether it is your personal neighborhood or an elementary school boundary.
- Communicate: You will need to distribute notifications, verify delivery address and get parent/guardian permission to deliver. Communicate the dates you will be delivering such as each Friday at the local school from 9-10 Am, then out for deliveries until the route is completed.
- Organization: When you run your route, it is important to list the recipients of the books in order of address and what order makes the most sense. This will save you a lot of time when you are actually out delivering books. As you drive to each home on your list, knock on the door and have the kids come out and check out books from your car, van, etc. Providing a small store bought treat is an added incentive for kids to get books. It is important to record the books they check out and back in again to make sure you keep track of your book inventory.
- Book Inventory: There are many places to get books. You can write a grant in your community to help fund new books or you can hold a book drive to collect donated books for free. You will find there there is an abundance of support in your community if your are willing to reach out.
- Data: It is important and fun to keep track of the data. This includes how many kids you deliver to, how many stops you make and how many books you check out. This can be necessary if you plan to obtain funding through a local grant.
If you have a passion for kids and books, I hope to inspire you to organize and operate a mobile library in your area. I am in the process of writing a Mobile Library Manual that will help others’ start mobile libraries and I hope to hear about them across the country! This is surely a way to keep many kids reading throughout the summer months!