Bookmobile brings books down the winding roads of the parish

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

Ambling down Louisiana highways 129 and 909, the red, white and blue GMC Value Van delivers personal service to parish residents with its pickups and deliveries.

The driver is not bringing ice or milk to the most rural parts of Concordia Parish but pleasure and entertainment by way of books.

The Concordia Parish Library Bookmobile has been seen traveling the &uot;worst roads in the parish&uot; since 1929, according to Library Director Amanda Taylor.

Email newsletter signup

This fourth branch on wheels has a higher circulation than any of the three other branches &045;&045; Ferriday, Vidalia or Clayton.

Just because it has wheels does not mean it doesn’t look like a real library on the inside. Rows and rows of Dewey-decimal arranged books line shelves from floor to ceiling of the portable library. And yes, sometimes the books do fall off of the shelves, said Bookmobile librarian Agnes Smalling.

Perhaps the popularity and high circulation is because of the door-to-door service the branch provides.

&uot;It’s really nice for us in the country,&uot; said patron Syretha Simpson. Simpson said it would be very inconvenient for her to have to drive to the library.

Everyone greets the Bookmobile, and its librarians, in different ways.

Simpson is like most patrons on the route and has the librarians, Smalling and Carolyn Wilson, pick out books for her.

&uot;I know she likes mysteries,&uot; Smalling said of one patron, &uot;and if her initials are in it, I know she’s read it.&uot;

Smalling and Wilson have it all down pat, never giving their patrons a book they have already read.

&uot;They know our taste in literature,&uot; Simpson said. While Smalling and Wilson pick out about 15 books for Simpson every two weeks, she still gets on the Bookmobile to look for one or two more before they back out of her driveway.

Tuesday afternoon, sisters Adrien Mills, 9, and Evy Mills, 7, and their cousin Anna Cross, 11, ran out of their grandparent’s home in New Era to greet the Bookmobile.

&uot;We like it because we like reading,&uot; Adrien said. &uot;It doesn’t come to our house&uot; in Monterey.

The girls raided the small library, sitting on the floor, reading to one another and climbing the step to reach higher for the book they wanted.

Whether it was nature books for Anna, funny books for Evy or sea books for Adrien, all of the girls found what they were looking for.

Evy, who checked out six books Tuesday, said the Bookmobile is &uot;kinda fun.&uot;

&uot;Sometimes when you get on the steps, it’s a little wobbly,&uot; she said.

But the Bookmobile is better than the library because you get to get on the truck, she said.

&uot;I think it’s terrific that the library comes to your house,&uot; Evy said. &uot;I like reading, that’s my favoritist thing.&uot;

Not all people get on the Bookmobile. Some leave their books on the front porch or sometimes, like Tuesday, even in ice chests labeled &uot;Bookmobile&uot; in the back of a pick-up truck to keep the books dry from the rain.

Not only has the Bookmobile itself become a familiar neighbor in the south end of the parish, but so has its librarians.

&uot;They know us anywhere,&uot; Wilson said of their patrons.

Soon, the red, white and blue box will be no more as a newer model roles into town with a different look. Taylor said the library has applied for a grant through the Department of Agriculture to fund half of the new Bookmobile, which they hope will arrive in August.