Many people remember the bookmobile fondly, but may see it as a thing of the past—not in Stark County! The first bookmobile from Stark Library—then Canton Public Library—hit the road in 1933. By 1965 the fleet had expanded to four bookmobiles, and represented more than 40% of the Library’s circulation.
Today, the Library’s mobile services fleet is the largest in the state and touches every corner of Stark County, providing library services to each school district, preschool, and senior center in our service area. In addition, the Community Bus visits MRDD Workshops, the Stark Regional Community Correction Center, and reaches into neighborhoods and rural areas that may not have access to a local branch. We even make monthly deliveries to 120 homebound patrons.
Terri has been with the library since 1991, and has worked on the Kidmobile since it first went on the road. When school starts in the fall, she looks forward to seeing the way the children’s eyes light up each time they enter the door. The first thing the kids do when they get on the bus is have a program—complete with props, songs, finger plays, and maybe even dancing.
“Many of the children I work with may have never been in a library building,” she said. “I love to introduce them to books and the concept of a place to get books and have fun.”
Terri remembers a quiet little boy who reluctantly joined his class for storytime. “I don’t like stories,” he said, scowling. As she was telling the story, Terri noticed him listening, laughing, and participating. She said to him, “So you still don’t like stories?” He replied, sheepishly, “Well, I like THAT story!”
Teachers and educators love the specially curated Educator Units. The staff is already preparing more than 125 educator units for this fall, which can include books, media, puppets and more.
“The teaching units are great. We had all the resources we needed to learn about different countries in one box. The kids loved the puppets and I loved a stress-free lesson.”
Tony has been driving the kidmobile for many years. He loves the kids and has dozens of stories. “There was one girl at Walker—she was a nice little girl,” he said. “She was a foster kid, so she went from home to home to home. It seemed she always left her card behind, and she’d never have it with her."
“One day she came up to me and the first thing that came out of her mouth was, ‘You know, I’m going to get a mom and dad today! I’m going to be adopted!’ I was really happy for her.” Tony said, with tears welling in his eyes.
Linda has worked in mobile services for more than 25 years. One of her favorite weekly stops is The Workshops, Inc. (TWi). “They drop everything when they see the bookmobile coming,” she says, with a smile.
There’s one loyal patron whose name is Luke. Linda first met Luke many years ago when he was at Southgate school. “When I met him, he couldn’t walk,” she said. “They’d carry him onto the bookmobile and place him on the floor and he’d crawl over to the books. Eventually, the doctors performed a successful back operation, and today he walks with the aid of a walker. It’s really kind of a miracle, when you think about it.” Sometimes Linda sees Luke at community events, and he's always excited to see her.
Many people see the neighborhood bookmobile stops as their community hub. It’s like having a little close-knit family every week. Linda says that cookbooks are always a popular item. Tina, a regular visitor, is always looking for crockpot recipes. She wants to try new recipes and is bringing samples for the bookmobile staff to taste test. “She’s amazing,” Linda says. “I think she should publish her own cookbook!”
An older patron by the name of Patricia was a night stop patron of Linda’s for 12 years. The night stop folded, but that didn’t stop Patricia. Now she comes to one of the neighborhood stops, following Linda wherever she goes.
“It feels like family. That’s why I like this job.”