It’s National Library Week, and the New York Public Library has taken the opportunity to announce that it will be expanding its presence in New York City’s neighborhoods this summer in the form of three new bookmobiles. The mobile libraries are headed to communities in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island.
The three new bookmobiles–the first of which will undergo testing this month and begin service in the Bronx by June–are expected to hit the streets by fall. The rolling libraries inhabit 20-foot-long Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans sporting bright red paint and the iconic New York Public Library lion logo. Inside, 1,000 books that have been requested for checkout or are available for curbside browsing await. Two library staff members will be accompanying each bookmobile to aid with return or renewal and to help New Yorkers sign up for library cards and receive reference and reader services.
The bookmobile program was designed to supplement service when branches are temporarily closed for much-needed renovations and improvements–such as in the Bronx community impacted by the one-year closure of the Grand Concourse Library. Beyond supplemental service, the mobile libraries will also visit local schools, senior centers and high-traffic areas to engage the community and expand library service beyond the walls of local branches. The schedule and location of the bookmobiles will be available beginning this summer on the Library’s website and via social media.
The city-funded mobile libraries may be the first of their kind to serve the public in decades, but “book vans,” “bookwagons” and “traveling libraries” were used by the library throughout its 124-year history to bring books and information directly into the city’s communities.
New York Public Library Interim Chief Branch Library Officer Caryl Matute said in a statement, “We are so excited to roll out the next generation of New York Public Library Bookmobiles, which will allow us to take our books and services on the road and directly to New Yorkers in communities across our system. One of the best parts of being a librarian is engaging with New Yorkers, and this mobile library will give us new opportunities to do just that. We know that when kids and adults see the bookmobile coming, they’ll get excited to indulge in their next read, and we can’t wait to get started.”