FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County Public Library’s new bookmobile is rolling out access to books, Wi-Fi, computers and printing to residents throughout the county.
The bookmobile is providing access to these services for all, but especially those who may face barriers of visiting the county’s libraries like lack of transportation.
“The whole reason we wanted to do this was to serve people not taking advantage of library services for whatever reason,” Sarah Reynolds, outreach manager for the bookmobile program said. “We picked places to visit where we knew there were barriers, whether it was proximity to a library, transportation issues or just a lack of awareness.”
And so far, so good.
“The reception from the community has been incredible,” Reynolds said.
Recently, the bookmobile set up shop for the day at a Dollar General store near the Forsyth/Hall County line, an area Reynolds said lacks convenient access to a library for residents of either county. Those in the area took advantage of the access. Reynolds said one example was a 76-year-old woman who had never had a library card in her life signed up for one and checked out four books.
“Basically, we are their branch library,” Reynolds said. “We just happen to be in the parking lot of where they shop.”
The bookmobile will visit stores, mobile home parks, churches, food banks, senior living facilities and other areas. Reynolds said a set schedule is being hammered out, but with more trips into the community they will have a better understanding of the best times and dates to visit each site. Once those are established, a seasonal schedule will be composed, and residents can have a set bookmobile visit time at each location, like the second Tuesday of the month, Reynolds said.
Along with books, two computer stations and desks that can be reconfigured depending on need are also installed in the 33-foot-long truck. The bookmobile also provides free printing especially needed by local students.
“They can do the work, but they still have to print it out,” Reynolds said.
Another advantage for students is the county’s library system and schools partnering to allow kids to sign up for a library card when parents fill out paperwork ahead of the school year. Their library card is the same number as their school ID, so students can check out books from the bookmobile without needing to take the step of signing up for a library card.
The bookmobile first hit the road packed with books Nov. 30, the culmination of a long process planning the library system’s new amenity.
Reynolds said the library system was throwing around ideas for providing pop-up services. With impact fees providing funding, she said they ran with the idea leading to the bookmobile. The county hired a consultant to design the Freightliner, which took more than a year to build with a cost of $400,000. The truck holds 3,500 books, a 72-inch TV screen, a 22-foot awning, hydraulic wheelchair lift and modular furniture.
While the bookmobile is still in its infancy, Reynolds said it is already having a positive impact on the community.
“We are meeting the target we set to meet,” she said.
More information on the bookmobile, including a FAQ page, is available at forsythpl.org/Bookmobile. The site also lists a schedule of upcoming bookmobile visits.