On the outside, it looks like a very large white RV parked adjacent to the Takoma Library. The door is open, inviting a curious neighbor to step inside. On the inside, books, computers and desks fill an area only a few feet from the driver’s seat. On Monday, October 6, the hi-tech bookmobile opened to serve the Takoma community after the Takoma Park Neighborhood Library, which opened in 1911, closed for renovations. For approximately six months, the bookmobile will provide traditional library services while the interior of the neighborhood library goes through a ‘makeover.’ So far, the compact library has not deterred borrowers from checking out books. “We’ve had pretty busy foot traffic,” said library trainee Lindsay Haokola. “We have a limited book stock available, but we are able to place holds from other locations so pretty much any book we have in the system we can get it here to the bookmobile.” Haokola never knew ; bookmobiles , which were popular in the 1950’s, existed before Monday. She credits the facility as a good substitute for a traditional library. “I think that the actual structural library is much more effective for providing community service, but I think the bookmobile is the next best resource instead of closing down services to the community,” Haokola said. “We want to make sure the neighborhood has access to the services they’re used to.” Chidi Agbuerunke, who came to renew his book, said he likes the bookmobile better. “It’s more convenient. It’s quicker, too,” said the Benjamin Banneker High School sophomore. Renewing, returning and checking out books are not the only services the bookmobile offers. Equipped with Wi-Fi wireless Internet, the facility allows visitors to surf the net.
Haokola said there are four public access computers, and that they are consistently used. Because of limited space, there are a few restrictions as for the mobile library. Jeanne Lauber, librarian for the bookmobile and the Takoma Library said Story Time for Toddlers, Getty Crafty and Teen Poetry Slam are now being held at the Takoma Recreation Center. Lauber added that books are processed by hand now. Despite the limitations, Derrick Ashton continues to bring his four children for their weekly library visits. He encourages other children to understand the value of reading. “Keep reading because imagination goes a long way,” he said.