For the Love of Libraries

This week’s column was written by Blair McFarlane, community outreach librarian for the Invermere Public Library. Visit their website or call 250-342-6416 for more information.

The Invermere Public Library’s next big project is to start a bookmobile service in the valley.

What is a bookmobile?

A van, truck or bus with bookshelves, WiFi-access, and other features that allow us to bring books and library services to our entire catchment area from Spillimacheen to Canal Flats.

What is our goal?

The acquisition, uplift (adding shelves, checkout station, etc.) and operation of a bookmobile van that will bring books and library services to all community members. 

Why a bookmobile?

Not everyone is able to get to our building easily. Seniors, those with mobility constraints, or lack of transportation access, deserve equitable access to library service. In an ongoing survey, 60 per cent of respondents say a bookmobile would increase their library use. Find the survey on our website at 

We currently do monthly outreach visits to the elementary schools in Canal Flats, Windermere and Edgewater. About 50 per cent of all cardholders in Canal Flats are students who got their membership through this outreach program. 

How do we do it? 

Our plan is to purchase a Mercedes Sprinter diesel van with a custom uplift. 

 The Sprinter van is the largest of its class, so it’s longer for more books and taller for more head room. 

 Why gas instead of electric? The diesel model has all-wheel drive to assist with safe winter driving. There will be greater demand for the service when the roads are bad, and we want vehicle reliability to provide the service as consistently and safely as possible.

Bookmobile operation 

What will the bookmobile service include? Book borrowing and returns (including hold delivery), free WiFi access wherever the bookmobile is parked, simple tech device assistance, pop-up programming during summer season (storytimes, etc.), school visits, senior housing visits, and tax-filing pick-up/drop-off during tax season.

Service stops will likely be bi-weekly to different communities. Parked at a set location for set times, and home visits as needed will be provided as well.

Radium library is in support of this project and we are actively working on best ways to collaborate. As we are separate entities, the vehicle will have to be owned, registered and insured under one library, but there will be avenues for programming partnership, as well as continued material sharing. We both have the same catchment areas, serving Spillimacheen to Canal Flats, and a bookmobile service will benefit both Invermere and Radium library patrons. You can find their letter of support on The Bookmobile Project page on our website at 

We are actively seeking letters of support, sponsors, and monetary or in-kind donations. Want your name or your company’s name on the bookmobile? Let’s see what we can do. Please contact Blair McFarlane at the library to discuss how you can support this project. Call 250-342-6416 or email [email protected] 

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