Having fun with your library card just became easier because now the Lafayette Public Library can come to you with its “Go Go Biblio” bookmobile.
The Lafayette Public Library’s bookmobile has been up and running since June, delivering children’s books, adult bestsellers, movies and other resources to residents around the parish, Outreach Services Head Amy Wander said. The 32-foot, ADA-accessible mobile library was first unveiled in March, but the van required modifications before it was road ready.
This isn’t the first time the library system has used a bookmobile to reach community members. The library system operated a bookmobile from 1948 until the late 1990s, when the last bookmobile was decommissioned after it could no longer be repaired, Wander said.
A smaller homebound-deliveries service continued, but the library recognized there was a greater need and decided to reinstate the bookmobile program, she said. The new bookmobile took nine months to assemble and cost $255,900, the library website said.
“We know that people are busy, we know that people might be having car issues or might not be able to drive at all. We understand there are so many different people with so many different needs and situations that we want to be able to get to,” Wander said.
The bookmobile is stocked with roughly 2,000 books and DVDS, including large print books and audio books, according to the library website. Wander said the outreach team is wrapping up purchases to solidify the mobile library’s core collection, and each month the bookmobile will have a rotating selection like the library’s brick-and-mortar locations.
Bookmobile items have a monthlong checkout time, instead of the library’s usual three weeks for most items, so users can wait until the bookmobile’s next scheduled stop for returns, she said. In addition to offering materials for checkout, the bookmobile is also Wi-Fi enabled and staff can issue library cards, Wander said.
In September, the bookmobile is scheduled to attend special events and make community stops most weekdays, with select days reserved for maintenance, cleaning and inventory, she said. To date, the team has targeted senior centers, elderly residence complexes and low-income apartment complexes where residents may struggle with mobility and access, Wander said.
The bookmobile is working to expand to more day cares, after school programs and recreation centers, among others. Wander said the library’s outreach team is building a map of the bookmobile’s stops, noting which school zones and ZIP codes the van stops in to ensure the bookmobile has “a diverse footprint” in the community.
“We’re open to everyone. The library system is one of the few institutions that’s for everyone in the entire community, no matter what. We want to make sure people know that,” she said.
So far, the feedback has been great, Wander said. Families and residents “brighten up” when they see the bookmobile and realize what the staff is offering. Being out in the community also allows the staff to share personal moments and conversations with residents.
One woman in her late 70s received her first library card during an event at a senior living facility. At a Saturday “Movies in the Parc” event downtown, one child squealed with delight when he learned he could check out the next “Dork Diaries” book right then. Those moments are special, Wander said.
That pure delight was how Teaka Ledet’s three children responded when they stepped off the school bus and saw the bookmobile parked at Holy Family Apartments Wednesday afternoon. Ledet said the children made a run for the mobile library immediately, and they stayed for more than 30 minutes perusing the shelves.
Her 5-year-old son, Zoel Chaisson, picked out several Marvel Avengers books and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” while his older brother, Zamarii Ledet, 8, selected “Mrs. Kormel is Not Normal!,” “Dog Man Unleashed,” and “Super Fly: The World’s Smallest Superhero!”
Zamarii said he loves everything about the books: the topics, the chapters, how they’re made and the pictures. He said he especially likes the feeling of growing smarter after each book and learning new things he can show off to his peers.
“You get to learn big words,” he proudly declared. “I like the big words.”
Ledet said she loves to read and tries to pass that enthusiasm onto her children. She said she keeps a bookshelf filled in their apartment and she encourages them to read after completing their homework. At night, they all read together and act out the stories, Ledet said.
The 26-year-old said while she takes her children to the Main Library, not every parent has the transportation or time available to bring their children to get books. She said having the bookmobile within walking distance makes the process easy and comfortable and allows more parents to expose their children to books, while also getting books for themselves.
“I’m pleased to see them back here trying to support and reach out to the kids that are here. They’re supporting the reading they’re doing, and I like that,” Ledet said.