Business by the books
Thousands of books, DVDs and library items are driven from one end of the county to the other by means of the Bookmobile.
Just as the name implies, this 30-foot truck is a mobile library, driven primarily by Placer County Library’s Michael McCurdy. The heavy truck, filled with 3,000 library items, weighs tons.
“It is quite heavy,” McCurdy said. “It requires you to drive a lot slower.”
McCurdy said when he first got the job, he drove the truck around for a few weeks to get the feel of the vessel. Since, then he has been driving the truck for a year and a half.
The Bookmobile service started in Placer County in 1970 and has gone more than 300,000 miles delivering library items, according to the Placer County website. With the county now on it’s third truck, the two previous vehicles required drivers with a commercial license.
“All one needs (for this truck) is a class C license and a sense of adventure,” McCurdy said.
The truck has interior shelves at 15-degree angles to take advantage of gravity, keeping the books and items in place while on the county’s twisty roads. Even so, McCurdy said he drives carefully and he hasn’t spilled the materials yet.
Inside the truck, visitors will not only be able to browse through books, magazines and other materials, but there are two tablets and a laptop ready to serve. it is also equipped with Wi-Fi, making it a mobile hot spot. There is a wheel-chair lift to comply with ADA regulations.
The truck is also earth-friendly. Two solar panels sit on the roof that power “basically everything,” McCurdy said, even running the air conditioner and heater on sunny days. For the not-so-sunny days, there is a clean diesel generator.
The Bookmobile serves communities that are rural, far away from the nearest brick-and-mortar library and it also goes to places where residents may not be able to drive, such as to a senior facility or a school.
Typically, the truck will have approximately 2,000 patrons per month, McCurdy said.
The service is out and about the county Tuesday through Friday. On Saturdays, the Bookmobile might be seen at an event to help get the word out about its service.
The routes vary on the day of the week and go as far east as Iowa Hill and as west as Sheridan, stopping at Rocklin, Newcastle, Auburn, Meadow Vista, Colfax and Alta along the way. It clocks in about 175 miles per week and visits 21 locations.
See the schedule at placer.ca.gov/bookmobile.