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Welcome to the Bookmobile . . . Kenmare Branch librarian
Pauline Nielsen accompanies the kindergarten class on their first
visit to the brand new Ward County Public Library Bookmobile,
as driver and librarian Phyllis Buechler greets students at the door.
The 2012 model Bookmobile, on the road since October, made
its first trip to Kenmare Elementary School last Friday.
By Caroline Downs
The new Ward County Public Library Bookmobile is on the road, making its first stop for Kenmare Elementary School students Friday.
Led by Kenmare branch librarian Pauline Nielsen, kids clamored up the steps into the Bookmobile where they found 15 shelves dedicated to books arranged and labeled with colored tags for primary and middle grade readers. Two more shelves were designated for young adult titles, with graphic novels, non-fiction, fiction, new titles, western and large print books filling the remaining space, along with movies and books on CD.
“Do we have to pay for them?” asked one kindergartner.
Bookmobile driver and librarian Phyllis Buechler and Ward County Public Library administrator Kerri Tyler assured them the books could be checked out for free and returned to the Kenmare Branch Library when the students finished reading them. Each student with a library card could choose up to two books to borrow.
The comments came fast and furious after that. “Oh, cats,” one boy said as he pulled out at least four information books showing cats on the covers.
“Can we get any chapter books?” one girl wondered.
“It’s the first I Spy [book],” one boy exclaimed as he sat down on a low gray bench over a wheel well and started paging through the pictures of that popular title.
The two gray benches are new features on the 2012 model bookmobile.
The traveling library was custom-built by Meridian Specialty Vehicles of Bozeman, MT, and delivered to the Ward County Public Library last October.
Buechler appreciates those benches, as well as having a good heater, operational wiper blades and a trustworthy motor in the new vehicle. Fluorescent lights offer a bright space to browse through the books. “We love our Bookmobile,” she said. “It runs great.”
Compared to the old bookmobile, the new one has less storage space. A couple of shelves have been lost, too, with the addition of a passenger seat in the front.
The shelves still manage to hold hundreds and hundreds of books, however, to serve children at schools and patrons in communities throughout Ward and portions of Mountrail counties.
Buechler noted the Bookmobile’s busiest stops are usually in Berthold and Makoti, and the largest school served is Burlington. The Mouse River flood disrupted Bookmobile service last year in areas surrounding Minot, but the routes will be complete again this summer.
“We were just in the Burlington area on Wednesday, checking to make sure people are coming back,” she said. “The flood hurt our schedule last year.”
She also mentioned the number of Bookmobile patrons seems to be increasing in communities and schools surrounding Minot, given the influx of new residents working in oil- and gas-related jobs. “We’re processing new cards for new students throughout the year,” she said.
The Kenmare Branch Library offers books, computer services, other materials and programs for library patrons in this area, so the Bookmobile does not include Kenmare on its regular schedule.
However, the Bookmobile does make regular stops in neighboring towns on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.
Berthold students and library patrons see the Bookmobile in their community those days from 8:45 am until 12:30 pm. Donnybrook readers can stop by the Bookmobile between 1 and 1:30 pm on those Thursdays, and Carpio patrons can visit the Bookmobile between 1:45 and 2:15 pm. The library’s summer reading program DREAM BIG READ! will begin June 4th, with further information and registration for the program available on the Bookmobile later this spring.
The Bookmobile schedule is also available online at www.co.ward.nd.us/library.
As Buechler spoke, kids plopped down to read their chosen books on the entry steps, the wheel well benches or the space behind the computer counter at the back of the Bookmobile. As soon as all the students finished their check-out process, Nielsen shepherded them back to their classroom and returned with another group.
Buechler and Tyler continued assisting the young readers, and books flew off the shelves into the hands of eager readers. “Can I take this one?” was the most frequently asked question of the day, with the answer coming back as a satisfying “Yes.”