Submitted by: Whatcom County Library System

On Mondays in Glenhaven, Washington, kids ride their bikes to the Glenhaven Clubhouse and throw rocks into Reed Lake while they wait for the Whatcom County Library System’s bookmobile to arrive. The bookmobile parks across the street from the clubhouse bridge, bringing over 4,000 books, magazines, audiobooks, DVDs, CDs and more to this small lake community nestled between Bellingham and Burlington. The library staff aboard the bookmobile greet patrons, helping them find books, pick up holds, register for a library card, and learn how to use the library apps on their phones and tablets. They’ll do the same at stops in Birch Bay, Wickersham and Lake Samish, continuing a service to remote county communities that began in 1947.  It’s fitting that as part of its 75th anniversary celebrations, WCLS is honoring that history by retiring its current 22-year-old vehicle and unveiling a new bookmobile at special events in June. 

According to Sarah Koehler, Ferndale Public Library and Mobile Service Branch manager, “the relationships you build are the best part of working on the bookmobile.” In addition to providing access to information, her team is helping to build a love of reading among kids, retirees, homeschool families, summer visitors, older adults and individuals who don’t have the means to travel to their closest library branch. “The bookmobile circulates more materials than some of our smaller branches,” Koehler adds, “close to 40,000 items per year.”

WCLS has been working with TriVan Truck Body in Ferndale to design and build the new 34-foot long bookmobile. TriVan is a family-owned business that creates a wide range of specialized vehicles from fire rescue to film production and wardrobe trailers. They have contracted with several local businesses to create the new library vehicle including The Sign Post, K&S Woodworks, Wesco Autobody Supply and Fastenal Company. The bookmobile will be outfitted with a digital display screen, generator, computer equipment, a wheel-chair accessible entrance and plenty of bookshelves. 

The official ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at the WCLS Administrative Offices on Tuesday, June 18 at 10:00 a.m. (5205 Northwest Dr., Bellingham). There will be a short presentation followed by tours of the bookmobile. At each of the bookmobile stops Monday, June 17 through Thursday, June 20, staff will celebrate with patrons. Starting June 1, the bookmobile schedule is:

  • Glenhaven, Monday, 3:00 PM–7:00 PM (bus stop across from the Clubhouse bridge)
  • Birch Bay, Wednesday, 3:00 PM–7:00 PM (7968 Birch Bay Drive)
  • Wickersham, Thursday, 3:00 PM–5:00 PM (Wickersham and Royer Streets)
  • Lake Samish, Thursday, 5:30 PM–7:00 PM (2195 Nulle Road)

In addition, the bookmobile will be making appearances in community parades and at events throughout the rest of the year to help celebrate the 75th anniversary of WCLS. Look for the bookmobile at the following events:

  • Sumas Days Parade, Saturday, June 29
  • Blaine 4th of July Parade, Thursday, July 4
  • Everson/Nooksack Days Parade, Saturday, July 13
  • Ferndale Old Settler’s Day Parade, Saturday, July 27
  • Discover Birch Bay Days Parade, Saturday, August 17
  • North Fork Area Summerfest, Saturday August 24
  • Lynden Lighted Christmas Parade, Saturday, December 7

As of 2018, there were 640 operating bookmobiles in the United States. They serve remote places where access to library services can be limited. Each of the WCLS bookmobile stops is 6 or more miles away from the nearest library branch. Successful bookmobile stops can help determine where the library may need to grow. For example, the South Whatcom Library started as a bookmobile stop, and the WCLS Foundation and Friends of the Birch Bay Library are currently raising funds to build a library in Birch Bay, at the location the bookmobile currently visits on Wednesday afternoons. 

About the Whatcom County Library System

For 75 years, Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) has been sharing stories and connecting residents with information, ideas, and community.  WCLS circulates more than 2 million items annually through 10 branches, the bookmobile, and a Library Express location on Northwest Drive.  Residents have access to WCLS’s rich and curated collection of books in print and digital formats, music and movies, online digital services, fun events for every age, and public meeting spaces. Visit in person or online at WCLS.org.

Featured photo by Neil McCay, provided by the Whatcom County Library System

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