A Day in the Life of the Bookmobile

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The Bookmobile parked at the Colonnades, a retirement community.

While the majority of Library users have not experienced the Bookmobile first hand, this mobile library is an incredible resource to our community, providing library services to those around Charlottesville and Albemarle County that might not otherwise have access to them.  To help demystify the Bookmobile for those who haven’t yet been on board, read a little more about JMRL’s library-on-wheels, and take a virtual tour!

There are two JMRL staff members who work on the Bookmobile – Willow Gale and Alan Van Clief. Willow has been the Bookmobile Manager for 12 years, and handles the Bookmobile office and the Albemarle County stops. Alan Van Clief works part-time and handles the Charlottesville stops. The Bookmobile visits each stop twice a month – view the schedule here.

The Bookmobile has a home base in the lower level of the new Northside Library, which is where the majority of the Bookmobile book collection is held.  There are 1800-2000 books on this mobile library at any one time, which include a wide variety of genres (popular fiction, mystery, sci-fi, true crime, cook books, biographies, etc.) and formats (large print, audiobooks, graphic novels, etc.), across all age groups. Willow knows the types of things that many of her patrons at different stops will like, so she packs in authors and genres to please them. Of course, the Bookmobile also has access to the entire JMRL collection at any time, so if there is anything that a patron needs that isn’t on the bus, all he/she needs to do is place a hold on an item to have it sent out on the Bookmobile.

More than just a place to find good books – the Bookmobile is also a mobile community space. When people gather around the Bookmobile, they catch up with friends from their community. Even on wheels, libraries can help bring people together.

Now that you’ve learned more about it, are you ready to take the virtual tour?

We start out at the Northside Library at 705 W. Rio Rd. The parking lot is located at the back of the building, which is also where the Bookmobile is parked when it isn’t on the road.

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The back entrance of the new Northside Library, which houses the Bookmobile office and garage.

Here in the office, Willow and Alan load up books to take out on the Bookmobile and pull items for holds.  The shelves (below left) house the collection that doesn’t fit on the bus. Depending on what stops they are visiting, Willow and Alan pull different books for different stops to stock the Bookmobile, and take the holds for those stops as well. The hold shelf (below right) is divided by day and by stop.

Now hop on board the Bookmobile!  A ramp unfolds with the touch of a button, making the vehicle accessible to everyone. A tiny desk (below left) holds a laptop that connects to WiFi and allows Willow and Alan to place holds for patrons, check items in and out, and do on-the-g0 reference. Shelves are angled slightly so that books don’t fall when the Bookmobile is in motion.

Meet Willow Gale – (below) Willow greets patrons when they enter the Bookmobile. She has a knack for remembering a patron’s favorite genres and authors. If you’re reading a series, she will make sure to have the next one ready for you, and she’s always happy to take requests.

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Patrons are greeted by Willow when they enter the Bookmobile.

For more questions about the Bookmobile, feel free to email questions to Willow Gale (willow@jmrl.org) or call the office at 434.973.7893 x2. And if you ever see the Bookmobile out and about, feel free to stop in for a visit.

Last but not least, here’s a short video so you can see what patrons think of their Bookmobile. This video was recorded by a student intern during the summer of 2014.


All the Light We Cannot See: Read-Alikes

Whether you are on the wait list for Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See or you’ve already read it and are dying for a book that brings you the same lyrical beauty and one-of-a-kind characters, JMRL’s got you covered.

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer – Andras Levi is a Hungarian-Jewish architecture student in Paris, 1937. After promising to deliver a mysterious letter, he falls into a relationship with the letter’s recipient, learning secrets that will alter the course of his family’s history. Similarities: a similar setting and overarching tone that touch on the
large scale impact of WWIIl; family dynamics.

The Book Thief by Mark Zusak – In this compelling tale, Death narrates the story of Liesel Meminger, who becomes enraptured by books that have been banned in WWII Germany. Also great as an audiobook. Similarities: the tenderness and innocence of childhood against the hideous backdrop of WWII; amazing imagery.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra “On the morning after the Feds burned down her house and took her father, Havaa woke from dreams of sea anemones.” When eight-year-old newly-orphaned orphan Havaa is found in the woods, she’s cared for by her father’s best friend, Akhmed. With Havaa, he seeks refuge at an abandoned hospital where the remaining doctor, Sonja, treats the wounded in Continue reading

Cultivating Writers at JMRL

writing_107658848When you think about the Library, you probably think of the dozens of materials that you can check out – the books, DVDs, music CDs, audiobooks, and more. But the Library cultivates writers as well as readers – and has lots of resources and programs available to writers in our community!

Writing Groups

In addition to books about writing and computers for public use, JMRL also has writing groups that meet at the library to form a network of peers that can help motivate you to do your writing. At the Central Library, a monthly Creative Writing Group meets on third Wednesdays of the month at 6pm. Writers can gather new ideas from writing activities and timed writing prompts to help quick-fire their brain into new directions. Writers can share their writing or keep it to themselves, but this is a judgment-free environment that inspires confidence and community within the group. If you need feedback on your work, Central Library offers a Writing Critique Group as well which meets on second and fourth Wednesdays each month at 6pm. This small group gives constructive criticism to help writers improve their works. As a novice writer myself, I can tell you that I was intimidated about the idea of having others read my creative works, but it is a very positive and affirming experience that can really help you develop your own voice and understand how your writing comes across to others.

The Northside Library is also starting a Creative Writing Group, which will meet on the first Tuesdays of the month at 6:30pm. The beauty of this is that there will now be a writing group meeting at a library in Charlottesville every week!

For more information about writing groups at JMRL, check out our Meetup.com group page: http://www.meetup.com/Creative-Writing-at-JMRL .

Author Events for Writers

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Charlottesville mystery author and falconer Andy Straka speaks about writing and the mystery genre at the Central Library in April 2015.

If you are an advanced writer, you might also want to check out the various author events that JMRL offers at a variety of locations. In Spring 2015, the Central Library had several author visits as part of the Regional Author Series, including archaeologist and professor Lynn Rainville, realistic fiction writer and activist Corban Addison, and mystery author and falconer Andy Straka. Author events are a great way to interact with authors and ask questions about the publishing world, and to discover how the authors developed themselves and their writing styles.

Upcoming adult events:

  • Northside Library (First Tuesdays)– Creative Writing – June 2, 6:30pm
  • Central Library (Second Wednesdays) – Writing Critique – June 10, 6pm
  • Central Library (Third Wednesdays)– Creative Writing – June 17, 6pm
  • Central Library (Fourth Wednesdays)– Writing Critique – June 27, 6pm

Upcoming teen events:

  • Crozet Library – Musings: A Teen Writer’s Workshop (First Tuesdays) – June 2, 6:30pm
  • Gordon Avenue Library – Teen Writer’s Guild (Monthly on Thursdays) – June 11, 3:30pm
  • Louisa County Library – Young Writers Group (Third Mondays) – June 15, 3:30pm
  • Scottsville Library – Poetry Class – June 16, 6pm
    • Author Raven Mack teaches this session about longer poetry styles
  • Greene County Library – Foolin’ Around with Fairy Tales: A Creative Writing Workshop – June 19, 7pm
    • YA author Sarah McGuire will teach this workshop
  • Northside Library – Girls of Summer Charlottesville – June 20, 1-3pm
    • Author Event with YA authors Meg Medina and Gigi Amateau
  • Central Library – Draw Your Own Manga – June 24, 2-4pm