Sims Library will take its collection on the road, bringing all the library services of its downtown location to all areas of town. Barbara Claspell and Jen Graf give the details in this episode of the Waxahachie 360 podcast.
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Marshall Hinsley: Sims Library is expanding. The plan to bring the library’s books and services to every part of town in this episode of Waxahachie 360 I’m Marshall Hinsley.
Despite the 20-year trend of digital media, displacing books and newspapers, Nicholas P. Sims library is doing more than ever in its century of serving Waxahachie area residents, checking out as many as 17,000 tangible items each month, while it serves as a source for curated and reliable information.
The library also offers high speed internet access, educational programs for all age and a sense of community with librarians who can help with everything from school research papers to resume writing.
The library does face one major challenge though: its location Waxahachie has expanded mostly to the north.
With some Waxahachie residents now living more than a 30-minute drive from the library’s downtown location, Sims is no longer a convenient stop for most people to add to an afternoon of shopping for groceries and taking care of business. To reach all the new parts of town, the city would need to fund a network of library branches, and that would take more money than the city has.
So, Library Director, Barbara Claspell has come up with a Plan B library branch solution of sorts that she will literally roll out in early 2023 in the form of a customized Mercedes-Benz Sprinter that will become Sims Library’s newest traveling location.
Barbara Claspell: I’m going to compare the bookmobile to like the Amazon vans that are driving around and they’re going to have shelves on it where we have books, DVDs or whatever.
Patrons will be able to check out materials. We’ll have a small program for the kids. They can do a resume. We’ll have a hotspot on it, DVDs. It has a generator and it’s going to be air conditioned and where we’re going to drive it to the four different locations, directions in town so that people can come and visit it. They can return their books to the bookmobile, or they can pick up holds there .
Marshall Hinsley: The bookmobile will be more than just a convenience for library patrons. Claspell says that nearly 20% of Ellis county residents either have no computer or no high speed internet access. More than 10,000 families get by with only one car. And almost a thousand families have no vehicle at all.
For them, the bookmobile will be a lifeline that brings the library’s collection within reach, along with the opportunity to explore job opportunities and take care of other online business.
Barbara Claspell: I’ve been wanting it ever since I’ve been here. It’s a good way to reach people and be part of the community
And then they’ll be taking it to not only the different directions; they’re going to take it to nursing homes, to the daycare centers, to schools.
If they have events in the park, we’ll take it there — any place that we can think of to take it to, we’re going to take it there because it’s going to market the library all the time. When I first came here, a lot of people said they didn’t even know we had a library and it’s been here for a long time., and we are just trying to make it more relevant and keeping it so that we keep the doors open and keep the patrons happy and get what they want and everything.
Marshall Hinsley: Jen Graf is the community services librarian for Sims who will be taking the bookmobile out for its sessions, and she says she has a vision for how that’s all going to go down
Jennifer Graf: So this is my vision for it. Okay. So whether this plays true, we’ll see. But, so we’ll have the capability to play music. So I would like, an entrance like that, like you think ice cream truck, so like kids know like the book mobile’s here.
Like I want it to be exciting. So I want them to know I’m not talking about breaking codes or anything for music, like just music to get them, oh, the bookmobiles here, or whatever. So we pull up and then we have an awning. That’ll come. So depending on the type of program.
So we’ll say we’re at a daycare, there’ll be an awning that comes out. If the weather’s nice, hopefully the program can be outside, like in front of the book, mobile and things like that. We will have a TV on the side. So if we’re having music or anything like that, we’ll have like stuff on the TV for the kids to just engage with is long.
So story times usually go music songs, read a story, do some more songs and dance and things like that, have the kids come out — we’ll, do our program, whatever it looks like, whether it’s playing games or if it’s an older group, maybe we’re doing robotics or something along those lines, but so once the program’s done, the kids will have an opportunity to get on the bus.
So, daycares would have an institutional card where the teachers could take the kids on, they can check out books then to stay with them. So they’d get to do a little tour of the bus, pick out books. If parents are with them, anybody that is able to get a library card — that would be fully functional on the book mobile as well.
So we’d stay there and typically we’re thinking for programs; it’ll be about an hour. So that’ll be time for a 30-minute story time plus time for the kids to check out books and things like that. And then hopefully play a little tune when we pull away. The carts are able to come off the things if it’s a large group or something like that; we could pull the carts off, so you don’t have a hundred kids trying to get in the book mobile at one time, but it would, we’d be able to line them up and the kids would be able to browse the books that way as well. So weather permitting — weather not permitting, we’d take the program into that organization and do a craft there.
Maybe like when we go to nursing homes and things like that, it might not be feasible to, for everybody to come outside. So we would be able to roll the carts inside to the patrons there. So they would be able to access the books as well. The cool thing about it is even if we don’t have the books on the book, mobile, if there are books, people want, they can put ’em on hold from the library and we can bring them to them as well.
Lots of different opportunities, but that’s how I envision us, like rolling into a place is just music going. And everybody’s oh, the bookmobile’s here — run screaming. , that’ll have to, we’ll have to figure that out.
Marshall Hinsley: Graf says the bookmobile will be active throughout the week, bringing to all areas of town, its collection of more than 5,000 books along with high-speed internet access and everything else that you would expect from a brick and mortar branch.
Jennifer Graf: I think we could go more places that would impact the kids as far as like daycares and schools are numerous here. However, we will be going to the senior center — senior — I can’t say that– citizen center. Yes. Nursing homes. We already do programs at nursing homes currently where we’d go and do crafts with them.
So we’d still make a schedule for our nursing homes. Daymark has reached out for interest in us coming there and doing programs. It would reach all ages. We’ve just put out — you might have seen it on the Facebook — if an organization is interested in them being a stop on our route, then we’re still we’re open to that right now.
Marshall Hinsley: Keep up with Sims library and what’s happening in and around Waxahachie by subscribing to our podcast and visiting Waxahachie360.com.