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Columbia Missourian

BOONE LIFE: Bookmobile brings library to towns without one

By Leah Beane
May 2, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
The Daniel Boone Regional Library's Bookmobile stays in a town for citizens to visit and choose reading material to check out. Bookmobile Jr. visits area day cares and schools as part of an effort to increase early childhood literacy.

COLUMBIA — For some residents of Boone and Callaway counties, the drive to the nearest library takes longer than the time spent picking up books.

That's where the Bookmobile comes in — making literary materials more accessible to residents in the Daniel Boone Regional Library readership. Keeping a regular schedule of stops, the Bookmobile frequents Auxvasse, Hallsville, Harrisburg, Holts Summit, Mokane, Sturgeon, Williamsburg and even the outskirts of Columbia.

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"We're like a thumbnail version of the regular library," said Eric Schmeck, a regular driver for the Bookmobile.

Offering books from all genres, DVDs, music and books on tape, the mobile library brings almost all of the services of the permanent branches to the people who live in towns that may not have a library of their own.

Part of the outreach program of the Daniel Boone Regional Library, the regular Bookmobile generally stops in towns for hours at a time and will visit schools or other centers for special tours only.  The library runs other programs designed to promote access to literature as well.

Bookmobile Jr. is exactly what it sounds like: a smaller version of the mobile library, filled with children’s books and resources for day care owners. The library associates who travel with the driver affectionately call the vehicle "Junior" and travel to large and small day cares in Boone and Callaway counties.

Early childhood literacy is one of the focuses of the library, so to reach out, Junior travels to the day cares that can’t attend storytime at the regular branches of the library.

Aimee Leonhard is a library associate on the Children’s Team at Columbia Public Library. She visits day care centers in the Holts Summit area once a month and leads the children in a themed story time aboard Junior.

"It's been really fun, it's really fun watching the kids grow," said Leonhard, who has visited the same day cares for two years now. "You know, I like the energy a lot … I think it's really joyful."

During Schmeck's time as the Bookmobile driver, he said he started recognizing the regulars on his stops — families with small children who borrow beginning reader books, elderly women getting historical novels for their husbands and middle schoolers looking for the latest book in a series.

"They really seem to appreciate the services that we're bringing them," he said of the Bookmobile patrons, many of whom live within walking distance of a stop but more than 30 minutes from the nearest library.

Some stops are busier than others, but just because the towns are small doesn’t mean everyone knows about the service, Schmeck said. John White, a Hallsville resident, was walking by in early April and noticed the purple and white Bookmobile and decided to borrow some reading material.

The Wilson family came by the Hallsville stop also. Kristie Wilson had been to the mobile library before, but her three children had never gone aboard.

"Now that summer is approaching, hopefully we'll have more time to read," Wilson said.

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