Integrating Digital Libraries into Your Bookmobile

Schoolchildren working on tablets

Libraries and bookmobiles have historically been a location to house physical copies of books, magazines, and papers. Here patrons have been able to find the materials they are looking for and check out a physical copy to take home and read.

But as people spend more time on digital devices, paired with a pandemic-driven desire to leave the house less, there has been an uptick in the demand for digital formats of books and materials.

The good news is that libraries are adapting to this increasing demand for digital resources. Integrating apps into the library system, such as Libby and Hoopla, is making it possible for patrons to check out digital copies of materials from anywhere.

For bookmobiles, there is a great opportunity to embrace the demand for digital resources and to integrate this into the function of the bookmobile. Because, while Americans are increasing their use of digital resources, according to Pew Research, only 7% of Americans prefer to use digital-only. What exists is a demand for a blend of both online and offline interactions with the library system. Here, bookmobiles can embrace the trend in the following key ways.

Curate Integrated Collections

Bookmobiles were created to bring collections of books and materials to patrons who might not otherwise have had access to the library. Whether it is visiting a school, setting up in an underserved neighborhood, or heading to the local nursing home, bookmobiles play a critical role in allowing patrons to learn more about what books are available without traveling to a physical location.

One of the best ways to start integrating a digital library into your bookmobile is to build a collection that features both physical materials and digital materials.

For example, perhaps your theme for the month is around highlighting holiday reads. An integrated collection might include:

  • Physical recipe books for holiday meals
  • Digital copies of popular holiday music
  • Physical copies of holiday novels with information about which novels are also available through your library’s apps
  • Audiobooks centered around the holiday’s origins

By showcasing both physical and digital materials in a symbiotic way, you can help patrons begin to appreciate the blend of both styles of resources. This can help those who are accustomed to physical materials only begin to delve into the world of digital and can meet the needs of those who prefer to have a little bit of both.

Host Classes to Teach Users about Digital Libraries

In some cases, the biggest hurdle for patrons in adopting the use of a digital library is simply a lack of ability. This is where a bookmobile can play a powerful role in assisting these patrons with the use of a digital book or resource.

Each month, use your bookmobile to host classes that teach users about digital libraries and walk them through the steps necessary to download the right apps, set up their account, and walk them through using the app.

You can also host help centers where you allow patrons to bring in their devices and troubleshoot issues they might be having at home. This can help ensure that those who are less digitally savvy can still enjoy the wealth of resources available at their fingertips.

Teaching patrons how to use a digital library can be particularly helpful when visiting nursing homes and assisting living centers. Often, older patrons struggle with the use of technology and can benefit from the one-on-one help a bookmobile allows you to offer.

Motivate Patrons Through Digital Programs

Digital libraries are a wonderful asset for both patrons and librarians alike. After all, a bookmobile can only hold so many physical resources due to the constraints of space. By encouraging the use of digital resources, bookmobiles can offer more resources than ever before.

A great way to motivate those who might be uncertain about using a digital resource is to set up a rewards program — similar to a summer reading program. By accessing digital resources and either listening to an audiobook, a digital copy of a music album, or by reading an ebook, patrons can earn points. Then, at the end of the program, the bookmobile can distribute rewards.

Set Up a Digital Display for Raising Awareness

One of the powerful ways that a bookmobile can help integrate digital libraries is by simply raising awareness among patrons that digital resources exist. Often, people are completely unaware that a library has digital apps and that there are countless types of resources available through those apps.

Set up an iPad or other digital device at the entrance of the bookmobile. Have the apps downloaded and showcase some of the resources available. This can go a long way in helping garner interest in using digital resources.

Get creative with the display! For example, you might get the attention of a patron by showcasing the latest movies available on the app. From here, they might be interested later in downloading an audiobook or music album.

Create a Bookmobile with Summit Bodyworks

Bookmobiles allow libraries to reach their patrons in their neighborhoods. By bringing the library to patrons who might otherwise never set foot in a physical library location, your library district has the unique chance to reach your community. And, one excellent use of a bookmobile is to showcase your digital resources.

If you are interested in adding a bookmobile to your library district, talk to our team at Summit Bodyworks. We have years of experience building bookmobiles for communities around the nation. Want to see our work in action? Check out some of our recent customer builds.

From large bookmobiles designed with the latest technology to small van builds, we help library districts find the perfect fit for their community.

For more information, contact our team. We will be happy to talk to you about your district’s specific needs.