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Santa Clara City Library’s New Bookmobile is a Library on Wheels

Hilary Keith, Director of the Santa Clara City Library, was excited to point out the colorful new library cards, bookmarks, and flyers with paper cut outs that can be folded into 3D bookmobiles available at Santa Clara City Library’s new bookmobile. Now making its way around town, the bookmobile is a traveling library intended to serve those who live, work and play in the City of Santa Clara. At the bookmobile, people can check out books, return books, pick up books on hold, pay fines and apply for new library cards.

“The bookmobile service provides critical access to books and resources that promote early childhood literacy, will enrich the lives of our seniors and be a gateway for low income residents and new immigrants to a world of reading, learning and information,” said Paul Sims, Assistant City Librarian for the Santa Clara City Library.

According to Sims, the bookmobile is 32 feet wide, 11 feet high and under 25,000 pounds. An estimated 2,500 items, including books, DVDs, audio books and materials for all ages, currently sit in the vehicle.

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“In October 2016, the Irvine Company donated $250,000 to the City of Santa Clara to purchase a bookmobile to restart and update bookmobile services,” Sims said. “After we received the check, we started the process of finding vendors to custom build a vehicle for us. It took almost a year. In December 2017, we received the vehicle from LDV Incorporated. They worked with us to meet all our specifications.”

On the exterior of the brightly illustrated bookmobile are a number of characters, including a child flying in a mask and cape, a cat napping on a stack of books and an octopus with its arms wrapped around books. The Santa Clara City Library worked with two local artists from San Jose’s Japantown to design the bookmobile’s inviting exterior.

“We contracted with a graphic designer named Tamiko Rast and she recommended using an illustrator whose name is Genevieve Santos,” Sims said. “Genevieve has illustrated a number of books, including the ‘Daisy Dreamer’ book series carried at the library. She also did the new artwork for the flyers and library card.”

A large screen television was also mounted onto the bookmobile’s exterior.

“We hope to have program information on the TV,” said Cody Christiaens, Senior Library Assistant for the bookmobile. “If we feel like it, we can even do Karaoke on the TV because we have a wireless microphone.”

Christiaens, who will be the face behind the wheel of the bookmobile, is enthusiastic about being part of the rollout for this new library service.

“I spent almost 19 years at the City of Mountain View’s Public Library and was the lead for that library’s bookmobile,” Christiaens said. “I’m learning about how diverse the Santa Clara community is. We look forward to reflecting that diversity in the collections that we carry in the bookmobile. People have been stopping me in the streets and shouting through their car windows while I’m driving the bookmobile and asking me, ‘Where are you going to stop?’ I have kids waving at me through the windows.”

The bookmobile’s first stop was at St. Clare School (at 725 Washington St.) on Jan. 23. While the Mission Library is closed for renovations, the bookmobile is expected to make stops at this school every Tuesday from 12:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. to serve the school community and the local neighborhood. The second stop was later in the day on Jan. 23 at City Hall where the bookmobile’s official kickoff took place. Currently, the Santa Clara City Library is working to bring the bookmobile to a number of other locations and events in the City of Santa Clara.

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