ROCKINGHAM, Vt. – For years, libraries in areas with dense populations have had bookmobiles, vehicles that bring books to various locations to expand accessibility. Now, the Rockingham Free Public Library has its own version of just such a thing for its annual youth Summer Reading Program. Last Wednesday, Youth Services Librarian Samantha Maskell unveiled the new bike at an event held at Central School in Bellows Falls. The bike is actually more like a tricycle with two wheels in front and one in back and is officially called Bibliobike.
At the last minute, the high school student hired to staff the bike had to abandon the job. Maskell surmounted the crisis by riding the bike herself from the library to the rear of Central School. The bike has a rechargeable electric assist motor, and Maskell said, “The electrical assist is great.” She also added that the Bellows Falls Bike Project has been “incredibly helpful.”
The Bibliobike is colorful, with identifying lettering, and it is really something to see. It has a big box on the front for all the books and supplies, which opens as a display area. It also comes with a brand new tablet that is tied into the library system, letting the operator perform all the functions of the library, such as checking in and out books and accessing their extensive catalogue, and it provides a Wi-fi connection for others to use.
The Rockingham Library has been hosting a Summer Reading Program for many years. Maskell said, “I have older people say to me, ‘I remember doing this as a kid.’” This year’s program, with events and other special programming is basically the same as always. The Bibliobike addition is funded by a two-year grant from the Vermont After School Summer Expanding Program.
The unveiling of the Bibliobike was combined with a storytelling event for the children by Marsh Klassen-Landis, who really set the mood for the event. There was a free children’s book giveaway, where every child could take two free books, and a table from nearby Parks Place, promoting their free diaper program. Some funding for the event also came from the Children’s Literacy Foundation, which involves a collaboration between the library and Central School. Kerry Kennedy, Principal of Central School, said, “We are super excited to have the Bibliobike bringing books to the kids.”
Maskell also noted a difference between their program and the required reading students must do during the school year. She said, “Summer reading letting kids self-select is one of the most positive things parents can do.”
The library is still in need of an operator to staff the bike. Maskell says one need only be 16 years old or older to hold the 20-hour position that is funded along with the Bibliobike. The person must be able to do “Story Hour” and have the technical savvy to operate the tablet. Maskell says anyone interested can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 802-463-4270. Rockingham Library card holders can contact her to request the new Bibliobike stop at their location, or one can simply click on “bike survey” on the library website, www.rockinghamlibrary.org, to request a stop for their children wherever there is a nearby convenient place for it to park and set up. Maskell notes that that includes Saxtons River, where the bike will be every Saturday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. A schedule of the always exciting Summer Reading Program events is also available on the website or by calling the library.