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Connecting Communities and Exploring Bookmobile Services

Recently, Jennifer Harden and I had the privilege of attending the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania, under the intriguing theme, "Connections and Confections." This three-day event offered a wealth of insights, ideas, and inspiration, fostering a deeper understanding of how libraries can enhance their outreach services. My main objective for attending was to explore ways our library, the Frankenmuth Wickson District Library, could expand our services and introduce a bookmobile to our community. In this blog post, I will summarize the key takeaways from the conference, shedding light on some engaging sessions that left a lasting impact on me.

Bookmobile Services for Residential Facilities

The first session I attended was titled "Bookmobile Services for Residential Facilities." This session caught my attention as it addresses a significant need in our community. With several residential facilities within our town, there is a clear demand for library services to reach these locations. The session provided valuable insights into the resources, staffing, collection development, and scheduling required to provide this service effectively. It highlighted the importance of extending library services to such facilities, which I believe is essential to bridge gaps and enhance accessibility within our community.

Education is For Everyone

Another session that left a mark was titled "Education is For Everyone." It emphasized the role of libraries in assisting parents and students in furthering their education. While we have already initiated some educational programs and resources at the Wickson, this session reinforced our commitment to expanding these offerings. We are exploring the possibility of introducing programs to help parents navigate the complexities of paying for college, FAFSA, and other career opportunities. The session reminded me of the broader role libraries play in supporting education and lifelong learning.

Portable Storytime: Expanding Beyond the Library

We've already introduced our version of portable storytime, known as "Destination Storytime." However, a session at the conference provided excellent ideas for expanding this program beyond our monthly Destination Storytime. This approach aligns with our mission to bring the joy of reading and learning to all corners of our community.

The Gift of No: Learning to Set Boundaries to Avoid Burnout

One of my favorite sessions was titled "The Gift of No: Learning to Set Boundaries to Avoid Burnout." It served as a valuable reminder that while there are countless ideas and improvements we can make, it's crucial to prioritize our resources according to the needs of our community. This resonated with me as it underlined the importance of balancing innovation and capacity to ensure sustainable and effective library services.

Accessibility Support Collection: Serving All Patrons

During the conference, several sessions reinforced the idea of developing an "Accessibility Support Collection." This collection is designed to assist patrons with various disabilities in our community, offering a wide range of resources, from speech therapy cards to adaptive technology board games. These sessions affirmed our commitment to enhancing accessibility and inclusivity for all patrons.

Bookmobiles: A Vehicle for Connection

I also had the opportunity to explore various types of bookmobiles available in the market, which was particularly exciting. These mobile libraries come in a wide range of sizes and styles, from large vehicles to bicycles. However, the conference emphasized that the concept of a bookmobile goes beyond just acquiring the vehicle; it involves careful consideration of staffing, collection maintenance, service offerings, vehicle upkeep, and logistical concerns.

The Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services conference was an eye-opening experience reinforcing the significance of outreach and accessibility in library services. It highlighted that Bookmobile and Outreach services are all about access and eliminating barriers, a crucial aspect of serving our community. As I continue to explore the possibility of a bookmobile for Frankenmuth Wickson District Library, I am deeply grateful to the Library of Michigan, who provided me with an educational stipend to attend and our Library Board of Trustees for their support in attending this conference. Their commitment to continuing education ensures we can provide "big city services" in our small community, furthering our mission to connect, educate, and serve.

"Be where your feet are at."

One of my favorite quotes from an opening session was reminding us all to "be where your feet are at." I thought I would share this reminder with all of you, too.

In summary, the conference was aptly titled "Connections and Confections," as it not only brought together library professionals but also offered a sweet taste of the possibilities and connections we can create to serve our community better.

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