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April 2010

Feature Stories

Libraries and the SEO Mobile Lab

Ohio’s Mobile Library Services Past & Present

Saying Yes to Schools

Selected Mobile Resources for Research

Sunbury Community Library Outreach

Taking Ready to Read Outside the Library

Virtual Reference Services at Ohio Dominican University Library

Vocera at OSU

List of Links to Libraries with Bookmobiles

Image Gallery of Ohio Bookmobiles

WebJunction Ohio Spotlight on Courses


LSTA Grant Spotlight

Wood County District Public Library Launches A New Bookmobile


Rothenberg School Choose To Read Ohio


Mobile Library Services

State Librarian's Report



Mobile Library Service.  It conjures up different images to different people.  For many of us it is the memory of the large Gerstenslager bookmobile.  Yet for children in Type-B daycare settings in Cincinnati it is the arrival of the Early Literacy express van.  For homebound residents in Geauga County it is the arrival of a volunteer from the Library’s Homebound Service.   For children in Kenya it is the arrival of a camel laden with books and for avid mystery fans it is the arrival of a new Ian Sansom title.  But no matter the image mobile library service brings to mind, one thing is constant – mobile library service is the delivery of library materials and services directly to the user.  And it is a beloved service.

To most people, mobile library service is analogous to bookmobile service.  Although Ohio did not have the first bookmobile (that honor goes to Hagerstown, Maryland) Ohio was one of the first states to incorporate a “bookwagon” as a standard library service.  The Public Library of Dayton and Montgomery County had bookmobile service in 1923, followed quickly by Cleveland Public Library (1926) and Cincinnati (1927).  This year, the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Service (ABOS), and the Association of Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) are commemorating the first annual National Bookmobile Day on Wednesday, April 14, 2010.  

When I arrived at the State Library I had the privilege of working with John Philip, a witty and urbane gentleman and probably the guru of Ohio bookmobile service.  As a librarian, John Philip was devoted to the concept of making sure that library service was available to any person, no matter where they were and whether or not they had the ability to get to a library.  Since John Philip retired, mobile library service has taken on many new aspects beyond the traditional bookmobile, but if he were still on staff he would enthusiastically embrace them all.  This issue of NEWS, which explores the gamut of mobile library service, is dedicated to John Philip. 

Paul Ward, Mobile Services Supervisor at Portsmouth Public Library, says that “John Philip continues to be a strong advocate for mobile libraries. His knowledge and passion for bookmobile services will never be surpassed."  The unseen influence of John Philip can certainly be felt in the many mobile library services at Portsmouth – from homebound services to deposit collections at senior centers to a new bookmobile that arrived in 2008.  This bookmobile was purchased entirely with donated funds, including those from an estate left to the library.  Enough funds were raised to build a new garage as well. 

Community support for a new bookmobile is not limited to one community. The Wood County District Public Library has just launched a new bookmobile, partially paid for with a LSTA grant awarded by the State Library but also through a huge fund-raising effort from the community.  What makes the Wood County District Public Library’s bookmobile unique is that it is the “Next Generation” of bookmobiles.  It uses hybrid technology, is fueled by compressed natural gas and has nearly zero emissions.  Quite a far cry from the 1923 Dayton “bookwagon,” a Ford one-ton truck with closed sides, fitted with shelves. 

Mobile library services create and stimulate community support.  An article in this issue by Chauncey Montgomery, Community Public Library (Sunbury) details how they began a mobile library service in 2007 by taking the Summer Reading Program to the children in Westerville Estates.  The program continues to grow and in 2009, because of community grants and support, they were able to develop a resource center offering after school homework assistance. 

Several granting agencies have assisted the Columbus Metropolitan Library in launching the Ready to Read Corps.  The Corps uses the Ready to Read program concepts to reach out into targeted communities.  They interact with parents and children in places such as ODJFS Centers, food pantries and pediatric waiting rooms.  When I was writing this article and I spoke with John Philip, it was the role that mobile library services can play in the development of children that he emphasized.  He told me, “The child that is reached by a bookmobile or an outreach program is one that is not left behind.  We are closing the gap by going to them.”

So whether your idea of mobile library service includes visits to school libraries, deposit collections at community centers, the arrival of the Mobile Training Lab or just a stop by the bookmobile, mobile library service has been and will continue to be a needed and used service in Ohio communities.  And for his part in making mobile library services a rich part of Ohio’s library heritage, thank you, John Philip.  Mike Snyder, Director of Louisville Public Library probably put it best when he said, “John Philip is the kind of mentor that every newly minted librarian should have as a friend.  The lessons he taught me about patron service, honesty and integrity have remained with me after over 30 years.  Our profession has been truly enriched by his many contributions.”


Missy Lodge

Interim State Librarian of Ohio


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