VENTURA, Calif. – Donations and grants are turning the Ventura County Library System’s dream of a hi-tech bookmobile into reality. Following a four-year fundraising effort, the Ventura County Library Foundation presented a $100,000 check toward the purchase of the bookmobile to the Library System at the Board of Supervisors meeting on August 7.
Matching funds were recently received by the Library System from a grant awarded from the California State Library as the distributor of Institute of Museum and Library Services Federal funds. Without the matching funds readily available from the Foundation, the grant would not have been approved.
In 2017, students at California State University, Channel Islands studied library services in Ventura County and found a serious lack of library services to large areas. They determined a cost-effective solution to the issue would be to purchase a bookmobile rather than constructing multiple buildings.
The Ventura County Library bookmobile is scheduled to begin offering services in 2019. The hi-tech bookmobile will offer a full range of library services to underserved areas and people throughout all of Ventura County, and will visit schools, senior living facilities, farmworker and low-income housing developments, nonprofit organizations, and more. This includes unincorporated areas where many people have little or no library service, as well as areas where lack of transportation, age, or disability may limit access to library buildings.
The Ventura County Library bookmobile will incorporate innovative technology to deliver services such as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) technology including a 3D printer, along with computers and Wi-Fi access. It will also offer many of the same services customers currently enjoy in their community libraries, including popular materials in multiple formats, and early literacy classes. The mobile collection will include materials for children, teens, adults, and seniors in both English and Spanish.
The Ventura County Library Foundation is a nonprofit organization formed to support literacy in the county.
Supervisor Linda Parks expressed her appreciation for the good work of the foundation, "I'm so thankful for VCLF and the donors whose generosity will bring us a bookmobile that can spark the love of books in children, increase literacy, and delight senior citizens and others who can't get to the library on their own."
The foundation raised funds from events and from generous donors, including the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, Premier America Credit Union, the Oxnard Harbor District, EMCOR, Camarillo Rotary and multiple private donations.
Foundation chair, Sandy Berg, credits the foundation board of former and current librarians, community leaders and retired County executives from all over the County with reaching out to raise awareness and funds for the bookmobile. “The bookmobile is just the first of many ways that the Foundation plans to support our County libraries. We are currently involved in assisting Fillmore with funding a library community room and exploring literacy programs for adults in the County.”
The Library System boasts having had the first mobile service in California, dating back to 1924 when Elizabeth Topping, then County Librarian, loaded saddlebags on horseback to deliver books throughout the county. Almost a century later, the 2019 bookmobile will play an important outreach role, connecting new users and raising awareness of library services throughout the county.
Nancy Schram, Ventura County Library Director says, “By partnering with other libraries, schools, corporations and organizations throughout the county, we will bring literacy and library services to community members of all ages who might not otherwise have access to them. The hi-tech bookmobile will bring STEM activities, such as computer coding and engineering, to children in underserved areas to teach them valuable 21st century skills and introduce them to future careers that focus on these skills.”
For additional information or to find out how your organization can become a bookmobile partner, contact Nancy Schram, Ventura County Library Director at (805) 256-8535 or Sandy Berg, Chair VCLF, (805) 266-8395.