Bookmobile brings library checkouts to Quilcene, Brinnon students

Weekly visits part of preschool ‘story times’

Posted 11/20/19

As the days grow shorter and colder, the prospect of an extended drive from Brinnon or Quilcene to the Jefferson County Library in Port Hadlock is likely to seem less appealing.

But the Jefferson …

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Bookmobile brings library checkouts to Quilcene, Brinnon students

Weekly visits part of preschool ‘story times’

Posted

As the days grow shorter and colder, the prospect of an extended drive from Brinnon or Quilcene to the Jefferson County Library in Port Hadlock is likely to seem less appealing.

But the Jefferson County Bookmobile is continuing to serve Quilcene and Brinnon students weekly, with Mobile Services Manager Celeste Bennett often reading to classes herself, providing students with opportunities to borrow library materials and participate in “story times.”

Books are also delivered by the Bookmobile to the schools’ libraries, for students and teachers who request them, using the Cooperative Libraries of the Eastern Olympics (CLEO) online ordering system, said Brwyn Griffin, administrative services manager for the Jefferson County Library.

When asked how many kids use the bookmobile, Bennett explained that this broadly falls into two categories; children who visit as part of a school experience, and children who visit on their own or with families.

“We have regular stops at the Brinnon and Quilcene schools,” Bennett said. “The Quilcene Preschool visits every other week. Families with infants, toddlers and homeschooling children visit every stop.” Bennett estimated the Brinnon School averages 50 students and 100 checkouts per week to students, while the Quilcene School averages 14 students and 40 checkouts per week to students.

“The Quilcene Preschool gets about eight early learners and eight checkouts a week, plus about 20 a week to the teacher,” Bennett said. “In South County, among families with toddlers and preschool and homeschool students, we have 14 regulars, with about 200 checkouts per week.

Roughly, Bennett estimates that this Quilcene and Brinnon traffic accounts for about 10% of the bookmobile’s circulation.

“CLEO provides library card holders from most Jefferson County libraries, including schools and the Port Townsend Public Library, access to materials from participating libraries,” Griffin said, adding that those libraries include not only the Jefferson County Library and Port Townsend Public Library, as well as the Quilcene and Brinnon school libraries, but also the Port Townsend High School Library and the newly added McCurdy Library at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend.

Bennett recalled that a bookmobile started in Jefferson County in 1977, when taxpayers voted to support a library district, though at that point, bookmobile service was contracted from the Kitsap Regional Library.

“A volunteer met the bookmobile once a week at the Hood Canal Bridge to guide it to community stops, but that service was disrupted when the bridge collapsed in 1979,” Bennett said. “Because the service was popular, the library board quickly moved to purchase their own bookmobile.”

That bookmobile, a 1966 V-8 Gerstenlagger with a split shift, remained in service until 1988, and was replaced by a custom-built vehicle that could carry 2,500 items.

Another bookmobile was purchased in June of 2003, and was able not only to carry 3,000 items, but also to connect via phone cord to landlines, so bookmobile patrons could go online and order books.

The Jefferson County Library’s current bookmobile, a 34-foot cab attached to a Freightliner Business Class M2, was built in 2015 and carries about 4,500 items.

“It’s fully self-contained for electrical and internet access, and we’re moving towards making it a public Wi-Fi access point. We now have a small collection of Wi-Fi hubs for patrons to check out.”

According to Bennett, the Jefferson County Library is always striving to seek out more prospective patrons to avail themselves of library services.

“I’m always wondering about who we don’t reach,” Bennett said. “It would be great for people who support the bookmobile to invite a neighbor or friend on board, and cultivate enthusiasm for all things library-related, and to let me know if they are aware of barriers to people using our services.”

Bennett reported that she often hears people say, “Thank you for being here,” and she ventures to guess that what they value ranges from being able to browse and check-out interesting items, to an appreciation of the social aspects of an on-site library, even one with wheels.

“The bookmobile is a hub where you can connect with people and ideas in pretty dynamic ways,” Bennett said. “Sometimes, it’s a quiet space, with people browsing the shelves, and sometimes, it’s a place buzzing with children and stories and conversations. I think maybe its biggest value is in being a welcoming information hub that people can count on seeing in their community on a regular basis.”

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