Thursday, October 21, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 34

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on August 5th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 23 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 23

Santa Maria Public Library book mobile returns

By Malea Martin

The last time the Santa Maria Public Library had a book mobile was the 1980s, Library Director Mary Housel told the Sun. Now, thanks to grant funding, the once popular library-on-wheels is back. 

For the first time since the ’80s, the Santa Maria Public Library will be taking its services on the road. The new book mobile will visit parts of the city that are outside walking distance to the main library.

“It’s a brand new service offering, and we hope to reach out to our underserved community, specifically to those who can’t travel to the library,” Housel said.

While the pandemic stops patrons from getting on board the mobile just yet, Housel is hopeful that the new service can commence soon. 

“I’m really hopeful that’s going to happen sometime in late August or sooner,” she said. “We’ve even talked about, if we can’t let people board it, we could at least do some sidewalk delivery out to the neighborhoods, and have some book bundles and things people could check out.”

The eventual goal is to establish a consistent schedule for the book mobile’s various locations, so that folks who check out books can also return them in the same location when they’re done reading. In addition to loaning books, the mobile will also have Chromebooks that people can check out. If they don’t have Wi-Fi at home, Housel said, folks can use the bookmobile as a hotspot. The initiative is also partnering with the Central Coast Literacy Council to connect with families who are in need of English literacy.

“The book mobile and the collaborative efforts with the Santa Maria Public Library will be a great asset to our community. We will be able to provide literacy services to all the local families,” literacy council staff member Laura Arteaga told the Sun. “This will be a different venue and a greater opportunity to expand our efforts and our outreach to our community.” 

Housel emphasized that the vehicle purchase was entirely funded by grant money and donations. 

“The fact that we were able to raise the funds for it without the city spending any money on it initially was really an awesome thing, especially when we are always struggling with our budget,” she said.

One reason the library was able to secure big grants—such as $100,000 through the California State Library—was thanks to a survey conducted by the county Housing Authority

“We had many comments that there are people who don’t have the means to get to the library, and they felt that library services brought to those communities would be very successful,” Housel said. “That was very validating and helped us in our grant writing.”

Housel said that going forward, city funds will be used only for staffing the book mobile, gas, and adding new books. 

The city originally proposed a budget that cut funding for the library, but after City Council and community members advocated for moving capital projects funds around to support library services, the budget passed with more money allocated for the library. Without that allocation, Housel said, staffing the mobile would have been a challenge.

“The staff that will be driving it would have been furloughed,” she said. “So the fact that they weren’t furloughed means that, when we do get our permission to take it out and it’s safe with COVID, then we will be able to roll it out.” 

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