A Library on Wheels

By Molly Weeks Crumbley

A library on wheels isn’t new to Calvert County. In fact, the Calvert Library system was born as a bookmobile in 1959, and became a welcome sight to residents of the rural county, who didn’t have access to new books without the mobile library service.

A visitor of the original bookmobile, Pat Nutter, relates, “In those days we had black and white TV with about three channels, so when the bookmobile showed up that was an exciting day!”

For years, the library bookmobile made the rounds, stopping off throughout the county four days a week. Over time, Calvert County filled with roads and businesses and brick-and-mortar libraries. The bookmobiles went unused—until now.

         A new 26-foot-long library on wheels, equipped with solar roof panels, wireless internet access, and shelves full of brand-new materials, was front and center at a ribbon cutting Nov. 9. Carrie Willson, executive director of Calvert Library, told the attendees, “It’s especially sweet to me to be bringing a bookmobile to Calvert Library.”

Willson’s first library job was in western Maryland’s Washington County, the site of the very first bookmobile in the United States in 1905. “We’re beyond thrilled to bring this bookmobile to the community. It can bring magical experiences to children and adults alike,” she said.

Though the library has maintained a small outreach department over the years, its scope was centered on bringing materials to licensed daycare providers and homebound individuals. Such services were needed in the county, but the librarians dreamed of more. They wanted to find a way to get materials and resources to community members who struggle with transportation to the four Calvert Library branches. Over time, the outreach department got a new name and a new mission. Rebranded Mobile Services, the department hired additional staff members, purchased new materials, and dreamed of bookmobiles. The funding was raised, and the day finally came to introduce the new member of the fleet.

Lisa Wieland, supervisor of Mobile Services, heads up a growing team of librarians dedicated to reaching people in all corners of Calvert County and says the bookmobile will be traveling a route that will include community centers, the county courthouse, special community events, and residential neighborhoods. “The greatest benefit of having a bookmobile in Calvert County is access. The library is all about giving access to people who don’t have it and we are going to bridge a lot of gaps with our library on wheels,” she said.

Delegate Rachel Jones, also a member of the library’s Board of Trustees, was on hand to help introduce the bookmobile. “I love to say I’m a product of the Calvert Library system. It’s really a hub of this community, not just for books but for opportunities to come together and have important discussions and to have access to resources.” After the speeches and ribbon cutting, everyone was invited on board to tour the bookmobile and even check out materials to take home.

Find the bookmobile: calvertlibrary.info/about-us/locations/mobile-services.