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'Library on wheels' keeps books moving

Posted: July 20, 2009 10:49 p.m.
Updated: July 21, 2009 8:00 a.m.

Katie Bluma, 7, left, Madison Maginn, 8, and Brianna Dzyuba discuss the reading incentive program with library assistant Tiarrie Gaddis, right, at the SCV Bookmobile.

The last time Lonetta Imperial-Pham of Stevenson Ranch checked out a library book was in high school.

But on a recent Friday morning trip to Dr. Richard Rioux Memorial Park in Stevenson Ranch, Imperial-Pham and her five kids came across the Santa Clarita Valley Bookmobile, and she put her library card to use again.

Imperial-Pham and her youngsters climbed the four steps into the nearly 28-foot-long SCV Bookmobile (think of an ice cream truck, but for books), and started browsing the collection of thousands of books neatly organized on the shelves.

Inside the air-conditioned trailer, Imperial-Pham grew interested in the bookmobile and its personalized atmosphere.

"It's a good idea. Especially with a lot of kids, it's harder to get to a lot of places," Imperial-Pham said.

After a bit of browsing, Imperial-Pham and her kids were ready to check out a handful of books and DVDs.

"I'm trying to get my 9-year-old to read to the younger ones," she said.

She'll be back at the bookmobile again.

"The bookmobile is so much easier," she said.

The Santa Clarita Valley Bookmobile is Los Angeles County's answer to communities that don't have permanent libraries.

As a "library on wheels," the SCV Bookmobile tours the Santa Clarita Valley and the surrounding areas year-round, serving the communities of Acton, Agua Dulce, Gorman, Val Verde and Friendly Valley. Stevenson Ranch is the newest stop for the bookmobile.

Until the end of 2008, the bookmobile made its rounds in Castaic. Now that community has a permanent library on Sloan Canyon Road.

The same will be true for Acton next year, when the county builds a library there, said Irene Beltran, community library manager for the Santa Clarita Valley Bookmobile.

Packed into the bookmobile is a collection of 10,940 books, 1,442 audio recordings, 1,964 video recordings and nine magazines.

"It doesn't look it," Beltran noted.

While visitors will always seek books to check out and explore, the bookmobile's books-on-tape and reference materials are used quite frequently, she said.

With every book that's checked out comes an opportunity to create friendships.

"Even though my schedule is the same, I like going out," Beltran said. "We meet a lot of new people."

Meeting new people ultimately leads to friendships as regulars hop onto the bookmobile every week to exchange books.

"I think it's more personal (than going to the library)," Beltran said. "It's a more intimate setting."

That intimate setting is felt by Tiarrie Gaddis, a library assistant for the SCV Bookmobile.

"I like the intimate setting. You get closer to your patrons," he said.

Plus, he's not stuck behind a counter working on a computer.

"Here, we do a little bit of everything," he said, adding that checking out books, helping customers and re-shelving materials is part of the job too.

Local residents are also able to register for a library card at the bookmobile, and a recently installed satellite on top of the bookmobile allows patrons to check their accounts on the library's laptop.

The bookmobile can serve as many 85 people in Acton in a day, she said.

Many of the clients include families with kids and, often times, families who home-school their kids, she said.

"A lot of people don't want us to leave," Beltran said.

Whenever the bookmobile breaks down and can't make it to the community, library officials are sure to call the patrons to let them know of the change in schedule, Beltran said.

Just like other county libraries, the bookmobile is ready for summertime reading.

As part of summer reading activities, the bookmobile will host Karen Rae Kraut's "Little Butterfly and Friends," an interactive musical story time for young children, at 10:30 a.m. on July 31 when the bookmobile is at Richard Rioux Park in Stevenson Ranch.

Additionally, much like stationary country libraries, the bookmobile hosts events, like the annual children's bookmark contest, to keep kids connected to summer reading.

It's all to get kids and their families to the Santa Clarita Valley Bookmobile.

"They need to go to the library even if it's for the fun stuff to read," Beltran said.


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