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Library reaches patrons through new bookmobile

KENYA SMITH

kenya.smith@tidewaternews.com

WINDSOR

Blackwater Regional Library has launched its new Outreach Services Vehicle. Supported by federal, state and local funds, the vehicle provides the same services as a traditional brick-and-mortar library, but on a smaller scale. While utilizing the vehicle, patrons can request children’s and adult books, magazines, DVDs, music CDs and audiobooks as well as utilize free wireless internet.

BRL director Jenny Bakos explains that the Outreach Services Vehicle plays an important role in the community.

Hillary White brings out a mobile case of books for loading into the new Books2Go vehicle. White is responsible for outreach services and as bookmobile branch manager for the Blackwater Regional Library.

“A major function of our Outreach Services is to serve members of our communities that cannot access our traditional locations,” she said, “We accomplish this function by visiting nursing homes and residential facilities, as well as community centers.”

Some of those stops include Consulate Health Care in Windsor, the MLK Jr. Center in Franklin, Capron Town Office and Riverside in Smithfield.

Bakos and Hillary White, the outreach services and bookmobile branch manager, said they already seen an increase in patronage with the vehicle’s accessibility. As an example, with the former bookmobile, the two staff members on hand would see an average of 11 to 12 people within 90 minutes at the Village at Wood’s Edge. Now that the carts can be brought inside, most recently the count was 25 people coming to check out materials. Bakos added that she expects that increase to continue there and the other sites.

“The great thing about this vehicle is that it is equipped with carts that can be rolled into any of our sites,” Bakos said. “We aren’t limited by weather — as long as it is safe to drive the roads, we will be there. Having these rolling carts that we can bring into locations also makes it much more accessible for our patrons with mobility issues.”

Along with the outreach vehicle, BRL is also starting up a Books-by-mail program in order to accommodate patrons who are unable to visit regular library branches due to a physical or visual handicaps.

“We can’t be everywhere [the territory is 1,600 square miles,] but we can reach people by mail,” Bakos said, adding that program had started with a trial run on Monday.

To check out the times, dates and locations for the Outreach Services Vehicle and other activities, visit http://www.blackwaterlib.org/library-calendar/.

STEPHEN H. COWLES, managing editor, contributed to this story.