After 23 years without a bookmobile, the Beaufort County Library is getting “on the road again” this month. When Beaufort County Council approved the purchase of a new bookmobile last June, library staff jumped into high gear to have a new bookmobile stocked, staffed, and on the road in 2017. The brand-new Beaufort County Bookmobile is tentatively set to hit the streets on June 5th.
“This bookmobile is simply the most cost effective way to expand library services to communities in Beaufort County that do not currently have a library branch within easy commuting distance,” stated Library Director, Ray McBride. “The Bookmobile supports our greater mission to extend library services and provide access county-wide. We have a great Bookmobile team who is looking forward to sharing library services with the entire community.”
Also, a ribbon-cutting will be held on May 22nd at 1:00pm at the Bluffton Branch Library, 120 Palmetto Way, in Bluffton. Bookmobile staff will be available to answer questions and attendees can tour the new Bookmobile from 2:00pm-5:00pm.
The community will have more opportunities to “Meet the Bookmobile” at library branches before beginning its summer route.
Beaufort Branch Library – Wednesday, May 31, 11:00am-3:00pm
Lobeco Branch Library – Thursday, June 1, 11:00-3:00pm
St. Helena Branch Library – Friday, June 2, 11:00-3:00pm
Hilton Head Branch Library – Saturday, June 3, 11:00-3:00pm
While the new bookmobile will be straight from the manufacturer, bookmobile service in Beaufort County is not new. In fact, bookmobiles have been serving readers across Beaufort County since 1956 when Mrs. Wilhelmina Barnwell and Mrs. Ethel Bailey used their personal vehicles to deliver books from the Laura Towne Library at Penn Community Center to children on St. Helena Island and Lady’s Island.
Shortly after integration and the formation of the county-wide Beaufort County Library system in 1962, an additional bookmobile was purchased to meet public demand for books. From 1962 to 1993, various Beaufort County Library bookmobile librarians logged several hundred thousand miles delivering books across the county. In fact one of these bookmobile librarians, Rosa Cummings, who currently serves as Technical Services Coordinator for the Beaufort County Library system, started her library career on the bookmobile. When asked about the revival of bookmobile service in Beaufort County, Rosa remarked, “I am so excited that the Bookmobile will once again serve Beaufort County. It is an invaluable service to outlying areas bringing the library to the people.”
The new bookmobile will be fully equipped to provide nearly all of the services customers expect from a branch library, including signing up for or renewing library cards, checking out and returning books, and picking up books put on hold from the online library catalog. The fully handicap accessible 26’ bookmobile will feature shelving space for 2,500 items, a public address system, and WIFI connection for staff connectivity to the library network at all stops.
Behind the wheel will be former Beaufort Branch Library reference librarian, Amanda Brewer and an assistant yet to be selected. “Although we have five strategically placed libraries in our county, we know there are people who face obstacles in visiting a library building,” says bookmobile librarian Amanda Brewer. “The bookmobile gives us a unique way to bring the library to them.”
The bookmobile will operate on a 2 week rotation stopping at over 40 locations, including assisted living facilities and after school centers across Beaufort County. The bookmobile will also visit community events and festivals throughout the year. Visit www.beaufortcountylibrary.org/bookmobile for more information about the bookmobile, schedules, and launch date.