Madill is a librarian assistant and has been on the bookmobile for about three years.
“The bookmobile isn’t just a branch of the public library,” she says. “It is an outreach service that is part of each and every community we go to.”
Cathy MacDonald, the librarian responsible for mobile services, says recent questions from people about the fate of South Shore Public Libraries’ bookmobile probably arose from the ending of Halifax Public Libraries’ mobile service in the spring of 2011.
“The bookmobile service is not in jeopardy on the South Shore. If anything, it’s entrenched,” says MacDonald.
“The bookmobile is the second highest circulating outlet we have.”
This means of the five outlets – Bridgewater, Liverpool, Lunenburg, Greenfield and the mobile – the bookmobile has the second highest circulation after Bridgewater, she says.
There’s been a 13 per cent increase over last year’s circulation. The vehicle has circulated more than 65,000 items, adds MacDonald.
While for some it may be just a bus, MacDonald says the bookmobile is vital to communities.
Watching people gather and converse in the bookmobile parked in a lot overlooking Mahone Bay, the vitality is almost contagious.
Madill jokes and chats with patrons as they wander the aisle to browse the books. Mahone Bay resident Graham Duncan is one of those people who take weekly trips to the mobile library.
“Crystal (Madill) knows who we are,” says Duncan. “She knows the sorts of things that we read, and she says, ‘You might want to try this.’ It’s a very personal service,” says Duncan.
He adds he wouldn’t miss his weekly visit.
Another regular bookmobile user standing at the counter directs a question to Madill: “Do you have anything that Michael would want to read this week?”
“Of course I do,” responds Madill, who has been working for South Shore Public Libraries for more than 20 years.
MacDonald says it’s one of the few services that go into communities.
“We’re a community gathering place now,” she says. “When people come to the bookmobile, they see their neighbours, they find out about new books. It’s becoming a gathering place.”
The bookmobile that serves Queens and Lunenburg Counties goes to more than 20 communities. Some regions see the bus weekly, while others see it every three weeks. Stops vary in length of time, but may be anywhere from two to five hours, says MacDonald.
Two other regions, Annapolis and Cape Breton, also have bookmobiles.
Madill reemphasizes the fact the bookmobile is so much more than books.
“Not only are we here for the wonderful books, but we are the bulletin board for the community,” she says.