Less a mobile library, more a travelling knowledge gadget van. When I was in Canada at the Canadian Library Association conference there was a passing reference to a really interesting initiative that I've followed up on. It's a rather clever van (illustrated above) called LiLi, or Library Live and on Tour. It's important to note that while it's mobile, it's not a mobile bookmobile. The van and its librarian stresses the importance of value, information and awareness, rather than issuing books. The technical specifications of the library materials on board are:
· A pair of laptop computers with 3G internet capabilities
· 40-inch plasma television for presentations, games and digital display purposes
· Two Kobo eReaders
· One Sony eReader
· One iPad2
· One Blackberry Playbook
· One X-Box Kinect game system
· Custom Clarion stereo system with iPod and USB connectivity
· Roof mounted quick release Exile XM9 marine speakers for music and PA system
· One Line 6 wireless microphone
· "Aooga" horn
LiLi goes around the local region (on tour) and visits places that people in the community congregate, such as farmers markets, family days and fundraisers. The librarian, (who sounds like she really rocks!) is Smitty Miller. She is quoted as saying "We soon came to the realization that the book is only our product and if we chose to solely concentrate on the book we would be neglecting all the other services the library offers which would be a huge mistake!" Smitty is able to offer basic computer training, access to the internet, the ability to sign people up with a library card, the authority to cancel overdue fines, and yes, she can give out books, for free, which have been donated by a sponsor.
This is a fantastic concept, which works well in practice. It's a perfect opportunity to take the library directly out to the people, where they are, and by having discussions with local librarians, Smitty can really focus on exactly what each community needs. I'm not often drawn to expressions such as 'awe inspiring', but this really is. It's a tremendously exciting idea, and I can see how it would work well in the UK. It's also a lot cheaper than a traditional bookmobile. I want one!
There's more information on the Facebook page which has a bunch of photographs of LiLi getting 'her' makeover, articles on the Library Leadership blog, local newspaper car section, and there is also a short YouTube video.
What do you think?