Deciding on the Right Size and Style Bookmobile for Your Library

Keller Independent School District Bookmobile parked outside

Adding a bookmobile to your library district is an excellent way to reach more patrons and expand your community outreach efforts. Bookmobiles can be custom built to meet almost any need. From small trucks designed to reach remote patrons on rough roads to full bus builds equipped with computer labs and conference rooms for urban settings, bookmobiles offer a world of opportunity.

When customizing a bookmobile, you will need to determine the right size and style for your library’s needs. The following guide will help walk you through the factors that will play a role in what type of bookmobile your district has custom built.

1: Outline the Bookmobile’s Purpose

The first place to begin when determining the size and style of your bookmobile is with the purpose of the build.

Bookmobiles can be used for a variety of outreach purposes. Consider all of the following bookmobile options when determining the size of your build:

  • To host a mobile library: One of the primary uses of bookmobiles over the years has been to host a mobile library in areas of the community where access to the physical library location might not be possible. For example, a bookmobile might be used to bring library books to an elementary school where kids can check out and return the books all from the school’s parking lot. This allows children who might not be able to visit a brick-and-mortar location access to materials. For bookmobiles primarily used as a mobile library, the focus will be on ample shelving options.
  • To offer classes: Beyond just a mobile library, bookmobiles are often used to host classes for the community. This might include anything from a nutritional course to a computer class. For bookmobiles that will be used to host classes, the focus will be on ample seating space, lecture equipment, and possibly computer labs.
  • To present workshops: Bookmobiles are an excellent way to bring workshops to festivals, farmer’s markets, and other community events. Here, librarians can host workshops on numerous topics such as resume writing, learning a second language, or growing a garden. If a bookmobile will be used for workshops, the layout should be designed to allow for ample seating.
  • To transport staff to events: In some cases, a bookmobile’s primary use will be transporting staff members to events. These bookmobiles should be designed with comfortable seating and extra storage space for equipment and materials that will be transported to events.
  • To provide technology: Bookmobiles can be used to provide technology to underserved communities. Whether it is hosting a mobile computer lab that allows patrons to apply for jobs or providing a WiFi signal for educational purposes, these bookmobiles should be customized with the latest and best technology options available.
  • To reach remote locations: Sometimes, the primary use of a bookmobile will be to reach remote locations in a community. These bookmobiles should be upfit on a durable chassis with upgraded wheels and tires. For hard-to-reach locations, all-wheel drive or 4×4 capabilities might be necessary.

2: Customize Your Layout

Before you decide on the exact size and style of your bookmobile, take some time to think through the layout of the vehicle.

Customizing your layout in advance will help ensure that the size vehicle you choose will allow for everything you want to be included. As you design the layout, think through all of the following customizations:

  • Storage: What equipment and materials will be transported in the bookmobile? Make sure that you add ample storage options to your layout.
  • Seating: From passenger seating to places for patrons to sit when browsing materials, be sure to include the right amount of seating options in your layout.
  • Equipment: Bookmobiles can be upfit with an array of built-in equipment. Be sure to include this equipment in your design to ensure that there is ample space for items such as computers, projectors, and other equipment.
  • Breakout Rooms: If you plan to host workshops or classes, consider adding breakout rooms in your layout. This can allow for focused learning and provides numerous options for hosting events.

When creating your bookmobile’s layout, be sure to consult with everyone who will be involved in the vehicle’s use. This can help to ensure that an efficient workflow is created, allowing everyone to do their work effectively.

It’s also important to consider where you’ll store your bookmobile. If you have a garage where you’ll keep your new bookmobile, make sure the entire vehicle will fit comfortably. You don’t want to have to worry about any scratches just from putting the bookmobile away!

3: Think Outside the Box

When people hear the term bookmobile, what comes to mind is a simple van or truck equipped with shelving to hold books and materials.

Today, bookmobiles are being customized to offer far more than just shelving space for library materials.

Instead, bookmobiles are becoming true community outreach vehicles, allowing library districts to reach their patrons with all new services and events.

When determining the size and style of your district’s bookmobile, take time to think outside the box. Don’t limit yourself to the traditional use of a bookmobile, but rather, think about how you could effectively leverage your investment to best serve everyone in your community.

Build a Bookmobile with Our Team

At Summit Bodyworks, we are passionate about helping library districts design the perfect bookmobile for their community. If you are thinking about adding a new bookmobile to your library’s fleet, talk to us about our customization options.

For example, take a look at a recent build we created for the Keller Independent School District. This bookmobile was designed on a Mercedes Sprinter chassis and features onboard WiFi, bus doors, and a workstation.

No matter how you plan to use your bookmobile, we are here to help. Reach out today to schedule a consultation with our design team and find the ideal bookmobile layout for your needs.