Kent District Library is going beyond its walls to increase literacy.
KDL recently rolled out its new Bookmobile, which is 36 feet long, 11 feet tall, 8.5 feet wide and weighs 22,000 pounds. Inside, it is stocked with a collection of books in multiple languages, DVDs, audiobooks, magazines and video games. It also is equipped with Wi-Fi, a large exterior video screen and modular shelves. The vehicle also is handicapped-accessible and has security features.
In partnership with Kent School Services Network, KDL will bring the Bookmobile to seven schools every other week — Monday through Thursdays, and Saturdays. Bookmobile also will be used in senior centers, rural centers, summer day care programs and other locations in Kent County.
“This project is a game-changer for KDL” said Sara Proano, community engagement manager for KDL. “Now we have the capacity of bringing the library to patrons, wherever they are. We understand that the services we offer not only foster learning and bring entertainment, but they help communities connect with available resources and that impacts their quality of life at many levels.”
One of KDL’s goals is to increase reading proficiency of third-grade students. According to KDL, in 2016, 50 percent of Kent County third-graders were not proficient in English language arts, and during the 2019-2020 school year, students who do not pass the reading proficiency tests will be held back.
The Bookmobile was designed and created with the support of a $208,000 grant from the Steelcase Foundation. A full year of fuel is being provided by J&H Family Stores.
“The Steelcase Foundation is honored to partner with the Kent District Library and the Frey Foundation to return the bookmobile to Kent County,” said Julie Ridenour, president of the Steelcase Foundation. “It is our hope that the travels of this vehicle will allow readers of every age to be part of the Steelcase Foundation vision of empowering people to reach their full potential. We hope the Bookmobile lights the imagination of all who visit, whether to check out books, use the bookmobile’s wireless and computer devices, or tap into the talents of the librarian.”