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Education

SLO County brings back bookmobiles for community outreach and education

County Library Bookmobile event
Gabriela Fernandez
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One of SLO County's bookmobiles is parked at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 21

The public libraries of San Luis Obispo County have brought back their bookmobiles, which will drive around providing outreach to children and adults in the county who don’t have access to a local library.

“Our desire is to have the three vehicles launched in time for summer reading and have them deployed in North County and South County,” said Chris Barnickel, SLO County’s Director of Libraries.

Because of maintenance problems in the past, the county libraries had to get rid of their previous bus. Now, they have established three vans that will be able to travel around all ends of the county.

“We’re excited to get out into the community and meet people where they are, and hopefully engage them in ways that will encourage them to come back to the library,” Barnickel said.

bookmobile photo.jpg
Gabriela Fernandez
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He said one of the many reasons they decided to deploy their bookmobile is for outreach. When the pandemic began in 2020, one of the many things that were affected were libraries.

“Our door counts and our circulation numbers are still down compared to what they were prior to the pandemic,” Barnickel said.

They also wanted to provide a mobile library for the smaller communities that may not have a local place to check out books.

“San Simeon, they don’t have a library there in their community. We know there is a huge underserved population," Barnickel said.

On Tuesday night, the SLO County Library and the county's Library Foundation held a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The foundation had allocated a $100,000 check to the SLO County Library.

Barnickel said a huge portion of this gift was used to fund the bookmobiles, and he hopes to use it to cultivate a closer relationship with county residents.

“We’re here for the community, for library services, and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone out and about this summer. Looking at youth centers and doing story times and retirement homes and such, where we can come in and engage with members of the public,” Barnickel said.

The bookmobile's route is online at slolibrary.org.

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