Back in 1967, the mobile library service was first delivered from a 20ft caravan towed by a Leyland van to five stops inside the city. The innovative service was established to monitor the level of interest – and over the 50 years, the interest has never waned.
Today the service is run from an 11.5 metre customised bus that carries 5 – 8000 items on its six-day a week service.
From small rural schools to retirement villages, there is no stereotypical customer. One library member was still coming on board for books at the age of 100 years.
The service is specifically aimed at children and seniors, says Community Living Rooms Team Leader Deon Knox.
“There are people in our community who have access barriers to our libraries. We eliminate this by having stops in areas of the city that don’t have a community library. We also operate in the evenings and weekends.”
Retirement villages are visited as well as places where families are going to be, such as parks and playgrounds. Parents with young babies and children particularly enjoy the ease of a locally parked library, as the walk to the mobile library becomes an enjoyable and cheap outing.
Behind the wheel for the last 19 years is Rob Bradshaw. It is a job he loves.
“I get to drive around the city in the coolest vehicle and have come to know most people who come on board. It’s a great way to spend a day. Plus, I am surrounded by books all day. What could be better?”
Rob particularly enjoys his visits to the schools, which are his busiest stops.
“I love hearing the bus filled with children who are enthusiastic about books.”
All genres of books are included on the bus including large print editions, and DVD’s, talking books and magazines.
The current bus is only the fourth bus used over the 50 years. It is difficult to miss with its distinctive and colourful artwork illustrating people living in our community.