With the renovation construction contract completed, we still have some odds ‘n ends to work on.

For the most part, though, we’ve changed gears and are rolling right along with our school year services inside this fantastic building. And as many of you have heard, we’re gearing up for some fantastic services out in the community as well through “mobile outreach.”

Between 1962 and 2010, we indeed did have mobile outreach through a bookmobile. Those days are gone with a series of budget crunches, but starting this fall we will be finding ways to get out into Grand Island’s neighborhoods and community events. What that looks like remains to be seen, but we are getting excited again about this basic service.

The article “A Field Guide to Mobile Libraries” (www.finebooksmagazine.com/blog/field-guide-mobile-libraries) refers to a revolution’ in libraries: “Perhaps the greatest change which has taken place has been in the conception of what a library really is. It is no longer regarded merely as a place where books are kept, nor as a collection of books remaining in such a place.”

Books held by the library inside a building only tell part of the story of how we respond to our community’s library needs through our GILIBRARY 2020 strategic plan. So we are serious about our goal of taking our services out to our youngest and eldest and better transportation to the library.

We partner with our GIAMPO (Grand Island Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) and its transportation study showing that these days only 4% of the total need from the Mobility Gap Methodology is being met.

What does that mean? Well, the mobility gap is a measure of trips not taken because residents in a community do not have access to a vehicle in their household (zero vehicle households).

With us being out in the community more we can both serve people where they are and also educate them about the benefits of getting into the library and how to get there through the transit system both now and in the future.

We also tie into the Grow Grand Island initiative that has called for leveraging library resources for lifelong learning initiatives; encouraging neighborhood associations to enhance community safety, host community activities and festivals, and reduce crime; and working to re-establish pride in local neighborhoods.

In the past the library was heavily involved in Grand Island neighborhoods, with nine school-year stops and 27 summer stops, and all year round we delivered book crates to daycares and senior sites.

Research shows that library service in neighborhoods is related to crime prevention. In the article “Collective Efficacy: Taking Action to Improve Neighborhoods” (https://nij.gov/journals/277/Pages/collective-efficacy.aspx), collective efficacy describes what residents are willing to do to improve their neighborhoods. Some neighborhood characteristics promote social cohesion, part of collective efficacy, including the use of amenities such as parks, recreation centers and libraries. Since we don’t have branch libraries, mobile outreach is how we’ll be rolling for quite a while once we get going.

In “The Power of Community Outreach Meeting the Demands of the Growing Senior Population,” the Outreach Services manager of the St. Charles (Illinois) Public Library, a community of 55,000, had this to say:

“Outreach librarians have a unique opportunity to improve an individual’s quality of life by providing library services, programs, and materials to these nontraditional library users.

It is through these services that we expand the walls of our facilities and bring library services to patrons wherever they may be.”

So whether you are a “traditional” user of our library at 1124 W. Second St. or a “nontraditional” user out there who can benefit from mobile library outreach, we roll along in service to you!

Steve Fosselman is the director of the Grand Island Public Library. Email him at SteveF@gilibrary.org.

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