Bookmobile makes the rounds

CHAD PLAUCHE-ADKINS The Marietta Times Kate Fagan, left, gets her books and materials from Andrea Ralston's personal bookmobile on Thursday in Lower Salem. Ralston is using her car while the actual bookmobile is repaired.

LOWER SALEM–The Washington County Public Library wants everyone in the county to have access to their collection of books and media, regardless of how far away they live from one of their branches.

Andrea Ralston, outreach services manager for the library, said their bookmobile program has been doing just that.

Ralston said the bookmobile program has been around a long time, but it’s only been a few years that the Washington County Public Library has done it for themselves.

“It used to be done by the state until the late ’90s,” she said.

After that, Washington, Morgan, Noble and Monroe county libraries all contributed money to a multi-county bookmobile program which operated out of Caldwell. After funds ran out in 2009, those at the Washington County Public Library decided to take on the program locally a few years later.

“In January of 2016 we picked out our bookmobile,” she said.

She said building the collection of materials for the bookmobile went faster than expected and they were able to do their inaugural run in June of 2016.

“We went to the County Home first,” she said.

The bookmobile now runs three days a week, stopping at 45 different locations around the county to include retirement homes, grade schools and general locations for the residents of the county to check out their materials. The bookmobile visits each location once every three weeks in order to give people time to finish their reading before returning their items back to Ralston.

Kate Fagan, 34, of Lower Salem, said she was glad to have the bookmobile back after the 2009 shutdown of the program.

“I love it and I think it’s awesome. I come every time they are here,” she said. “I’m in and out in just a few minutes and then I’m back home.”

Fagan said she has several children whom she home schools, and without the bookmobile coming to Lower Salem, she would have to use valuable time getting to Marietta in order to obtain the learning materials she needs.

Ralston said she understood the importance of getting the library’s goods to those who wouldn’t have an opportunity to make it to one of the county’s branches. So much so, that when an accident put the bookmobile out of commission two weeks ago, she started delivering materials in her personal vehicle.

“I was parked in the bookmobile when somebody backed into it,” she said.

With the back of her Ford Escape packed with books, she still makes her rounds in the community.

“The only problem is visiting schools. It’s kind of hard for kids to browse for books out of the back of my car,” she said.

Ralston said the bookmobile will return to the schools after the van’s repairs are done. She said she hoped they would be completed by March 22.

Ralston said people can check the entire catalog of material available on the library’s website, wcplib.info, and have her bring those items they are interested in with her on the next trip.

“They just have to call the library (740-373-1057) and use extension 606 to reach me,” she said.

Ralston said the internet age has also enabled people who wouldn’t normally be able to get to the bookmobile access to the library.

“People can go to our website and sign up for an e-card,” she said. “Then they will have access to all of our digital material as well.”

At a glance

•The Washington County Public Library’s bookmobile brings their materials to people who don’t have regular access to one of their branches.

•The bookmobile has visited retirement homes, elementary schools and general locations throughout the county since 2016.

•For more information about the program and to see the dates, times and locations for the bookmobile, visit wcplib.info. People can also sign up for an e-card on the site, giving them access to all the library’s digital material.

Source: Andrea Ralston, Washington County Public Library outreach services manager.