LITT: On The Move

Announcing a new “LITT Chat” for….bookmobile and mobile library services, titled “On The Move”!

Would you like to connect with other library staff who are working on a bookmobile or offering other mobile library services? Is your library starting bookmobile services from scratch and you are looking for guidance from seasoned professionals? Or are you one of those seasoned professionals who wants to dive into the philosophy behind and the various approaches to mobile library services with others? Either way, you are welcome!

Join this every-other-month virtual chat for members of the Idaho bookmobile and mobile library services community.

In 2024, “On The Move” LITT chats will be held on Tuesdays, every other month or as needed.

We are taking a break with this Chat until after Summer Learning/Summer Outreach activities quiet down. Our next Chat will be on: Tuesday, August 20th from 2:00-3:00 Mtn / 1:00-2:00 Pacific on: “Summer Outreach Successes!”

Meeting Notes from previous LITT: On The Move Chats

During the 5/20/24 “On the Move” Chat, we discussed outreach tracking and reporting.

Thank you to Clay Ritter, ICfL’s Public Library Consultant and Public Library Survey lead staff, for attending this LITT Chat and helping us understand more about outreach statistics!

Key takeaways:

When asked what questions are frustrations folks had regarding tracking and reporting outreach statistics, we heard a lot of this: “What counts as what? How is outreach defined? How are bookmobiles defined? What counts as outreach vs. a program outside the library?” The answer is both easy and hard – “it depends on the situation!” However, definitions may help you determine the answer. Therefore, here are some helpful definitions from the Public Library Survey, where your outreach and program statistics are reported each year for each of your library branches:

Bookmobile = Consists of at least all of the following:
1. A truck or van that carries an organized collection of library materials;
2. Paid staff; and
3. Regularly scheduled hours (bookmobile stops) for being open to the public.
Notes: Count the number of vehicles in use, not the number of stops the vehicle makes. A bookmobile whether it’s called that or not can change from stop to stop or event to event. Most folks focus on #1 here, does the vehicle have an organized collection.

Outreach/ Community Event = Include all community events and library outreach engagements that do not fall into the definition for library programs or reference services for which the library holds a presence. This may be having a booth at a school or community fair, library staff serving as a member of a local committee, etc.

Program = If it is targeted at an audience and with paid staff, it is a program.

Passive Programming = requires no staff interaction.

Reference Transactions = Information consultations in which library staff recommend, interpret, evaluate, and/or use information resources to help others to meet particular information needs. Reference transactions do not include formal instruction or exchanges that provide assistance with locations, schedules, equipment, supplies, or policy statements.”

Here are few examples that may help clarify:

  • A parade is a public event – it is an outreach event.
  • At a farmers market, paid staff take time to do a storytime or an activity – it is a program, an outreach program
  • At the same farmers market, if you have a table with no program activities, it is only an outreach event, not a program.
  • A literacy scavenger hunt promoted at a tabling event… outreach is the vendor table and number of people you talk to; program is the number of participants who complete the scavenger hunt. In addition, the scavenger hunt includes staff interaction, so it is a program, not a passive program.

Tips:

  • Embedded librarianship are currently not being tracked by PLS.
  • Outreach vehicles are separate from a bookmobile and are currently not defined by or being tracked by PLS.
  • Don’t view outreach statistics as a benchmark for your outreach services…view them as trend indicators and clues as to where you should commit your resources. Stats are more for strategic planning rather than comparing one library to another. These stats also impact our IMLS/LSTA funding.
  • Focus less on the vehicle and more on the activity happening….
  • BIG TIP…. If you have any questions about outreach statistics and how to count or define activities, please, please ask Clay!!!

Questions about this topic? Please contact Clay Ritter.

Questions about this LITT Chat? Please contact Kristina or Deana.

During the 2/27/24 “On the Move” Chat we had special guest presenters!

Thank you again to Audra Green with Meridian Library District and Molly Nota with Ada Community Library for their presentation on today’s On the Move LITT Chat all about serving incarcerated or recently released patrons in Idaho!

If you missed today’s live webinar or just want to view it again, here is the archived recording:

“Connecting Corrections: Idaho libraries and IDOC” presentation

A few key takeaways for me from today were:

  • the key difference between “jail” and “prison” in terms of library services.
  • while 55% of inmates released from IDOC are to Ada and Canyon counties…. 45% are in all the other parts of Idaho, which means there could be a role for all Idaho libraries in serving this population!
  • the overlay map of IDOC districts, Reentry sites and Public Libraries – so helpful! – see below for link.
  • how many small barriers incarcerated or recently released patrons experience and how libraries are already offering services to address most of these barriers.
  • the importance of digital library access, like LiLI databases, in serving this population – in prison and once released.
  • how grants, like ICfL’s Connecting Communities Digital Inclusion Program Grants, can help serve this population – look for Round 3 of this grant to open next fiscal year – keep an eye on LibIdaho and ICfL website.
  • don’t forget about juvenile corrections or juvenile assessment centers…more to come on this sub-topic on a future LITT Chat.

Key links:

Questions about this presentation? Contact Audra Green or Molly Nota.

At the 1/30/24 “On the Move” Chat we brainstormed topics for this year’s chats:

Brainstormed topics by the audience included:

  • Weather events/planning
  • Equity issues and bookmobile services
  • Bookmobile as food pantry
  • Using volunteers on your bookmobile
  • Partnerships vs. Collaboration
  • Data collection and service evaluation rubrics
  • Mobile services for seniors
  • Bookmobiles as social connectors/Project Unlonely

Chat organizers will rotate these topics through out chats in 2024, with possible guest speakers included as well.

At the 10/20/23 “On the Move” Chat we discussed:

Topics:

  1. Serving incarcerated or recently decarcerated patrons through bookmobile services:
  • Information was shared about a monthly lunch meeting in the Treasure Valley for groups who are working to offer reentry services for women. The meeting, called the Coming Home: Women’s Reentry Networking Brown Bag, is held the 3rd Tuesday of every month at the Meridian Library District’s Cherry Lane Branch. Representatives from about 20 organizations attend these meetings, including staff from Ada Community Library and Meridian Library District. We talked about what a good idea it would be to have a library presence at each meeting. ICfL staff attended the November meeting. Contact Norma Jaeger, with Recovery Idaho, at norma@recoveryidaho.org, for more meeting information.
  • We also discussed ideas for the future, such as providing an open/invite letter from the local library about services and a card, a kind of welcome packet from ICfL and then maybe local libraries can customize the letters, and then provide it to the reentry services office of any local carceral institutions.
  • Other ideas discussed included creating a statewide bookmark that has all the public libraries on it, through a QR code that connects to ICfL’s library directory and map, to ensure recently released individuals can find their nearest public library. We talked about adding layers to this directory to filter for libraries with Wi-Fi, areas with laundromat literacy centers, libraries with telehealth pods, libraries with food distribution, etc.
  • We discussed how the FindHelp.org might already have a way to search for some of these services and map layers on their site. We need to contact FindHelp.org staff as libraries are not currently listed under the “Education” tab on their site. You can find individual libraries if you search for them, but they do not show up under “Computer Classes” or “Basic Literacy” sub-categories.
  • Some of the transitional housing centers for recently released individuals could use literacy centers, especially the ones that allow children.
  • ICfL will organize a presentation to the On the Move LITT Chat group from Ada Community Library ‘s current services to Idaho Department of Corrections and how other libraries could be serving their adult or youth carceral institutions in their local communities. Possible January presentation date.

New Meeting Day of the Week for 2024! – alternating Tues’s and Wed’s.

ICfL staff will be moving the On the Move LITT Chats from Friday’s to alternating between Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s, every other month, starting with January 2024, as Friday’s are a difficult day for library staff to attend.

At the 8/25/23 “On the Move” Chat we discussed:

Topics:

1. Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) is holding their annual library conference this October 9-11 in Hershey, Pennsylvania. A library asked ahead of the scheduled LITT Chat whether the ABOS Conference is worth attending in-person if their library is in the market for a new outreach vehicle. Here is a summary of the online chat and email responses re this topic:

  • Pro’s of ABOS in person experience:
    • “It is super helpful to learn various levels of Outreach, whether it is ground floor outreach or an established department… We weren’t in the market for a vehicle when I attended but all the vendors are usually there and they are there to sell and answer questions.”
    • “I think it would be helpful to talk with other library staff who have recently bought a bookmobile there, and others might be in the market there too.”
    • “It really does depend on what kind of vehicle [the library] wants and what is the intended use (kids, mobile library, programs, delivery, etc).  I think attending ABOS as a first timer would open someone’s eyes to all the various ways Outreach can be approached and how it is much more than just a rig.
    • ABOS conference in person is great – [it helps you] find your people as this work can be isolating. Valuable connections. Folks bring their bookmobiles for tours. “Driven” group sessions are great. Not as much for homebased or senior services. Slightly more Youth related.”
    • ICfL can support the majority of a libraries’ cost to attend the ABOS Conference through the First-Time Conference Attendance Grant.
  • Con’s of ABOS in person experience:
    • “I am sure there will be vendors, but they want to sell. So, what would be of more value is actually talking to staff from other libraries on what’s worked and not worked (also where the [ABOS] listserv comes in — there are piles of archived chats on vehicles).”
    • “Hershey, PA is hard to get to (I am having to do a red eye) but next year St Louis is probably more doable [to attend the ABOS Conference].

2. Need for an Idaho-only listserv for library staff to ask specific Idaho questions or connect locally vs. using the national ABOS listserv for everything?

  • ICfL Staff suggested the group tries an Idaho listserv, set up by ICfL, for several reasons:
    • ICfL staff can share specific Idaho opportunities with the Idaho library staff who work immediately in outreach and mobile services instead of having to use the LibIdaho listserv and hope the info gets noticed.
    • Idaho library staff can ask each other specific questions and directly, not using ICfL staff as intermediaries to connect staff to one another.
    • Local & regional outreach vehicle vendor and partner information and tips can be shared.
    • If someone missed a LITT Chat, they have the listserv to use for questions and info instead of having to wait two months to connect with this group again.
    • We decided to set up an Idaho “On the Move” listserv and we will have the details to share online or at the next meeting, in October.

3. The topic of food (snacks & dinner) and hygiene product distribution through outreach vehicles and events was discussed. A few libraries had some details and tips to share:

  • “(Meridian) has snacks, dinner foods, school supplies, and hygiene products on the bus. We have been able to get grants or put out a social media call and [have] used our connections at United Way. The staff have done a great job monitoring what the families take/need and that helps shape what we buy/request. Logistically… it’s just out during the after school and community stops and put away during childcare stops because the kids would play with the stuff. We do limit the snacks to two per child but we don’t limit pantry items or the other supplies unless we are getting low on stock.”
  • Re funding these items: “The first year we got a grant from the Idaho food bank for $1000 and we were able to make that stretch almost a full year, with purchasing snacks and food only. We bought items in bulk when we could but mostly got supplies from Walmart. Our [library] foundation [does quarterly drives for donations] and the United way were a great way to supplement when we got low, we also had other partner like Boys and Girls Club and the Community School Peregrine donated items like cleaning supplies and hygiene products. They get a surplus of donations and sometimes cannot store/use them all fast enough.

At the 6/30/23 “On the Move” Chat we discussed:

Summer outreach with mobile services:

  • Does your workload increase or shift? Yes and No.
    • Leave more time to seting up a shade awning
    • Shift from younger kids to school age kids at preschool outreaches
    • Need for a longer outreach visit when you go to the summer lunch in the park because kids need time to eat and come visit the library
    • Senior outreach doesn’t change in summer
  • Caldwell Summer STEM outreach share-out:
    • Brought our maker space trailer to Caldwell HS Summer School – a teen focused activity that worked really well. Were impressed at how involved they got and focused.
    • Bought STEM materials like: catapult challenge, toddler farm toys, geometric bubbles (watch out for wind, water, wet paper), shadow puppets, paper bag kites – focus on everyday items so that families can do type of activities at home, learn how to put them together on their own
    • Assessment – STEM give-aways and 3D printed items – get to have one after they answer a couple of questions for the grant.

Mitigating heat and heat policies on the go:

  • How to keep staff safe in the summer? Do you have a policy? What’s included? When do you cancel a summer park visit?
    • Some libraries use the heat advisory level some folks leave it up to staff who visit each site to determine as they know the local sites well (is there any shade? access to water?) but they don’t have a strict policy. They know that 11:00 in the shade at one park is OK where as – at 3 is not OK.
    • Consider the smoke quality/ADQ too. Empower staff to look at it and evaluate it and make decisions that way.
    • Also recognize that individuals handle heat differently and that bathroom access is a factor as well – if you are encouraging staff to drink a ton of water and then there is no access to a bathroom, that’s a problem.
    • Vehicle size can be a factor – large vehicle requires more set-up of equipment but have an inside to cool off in – small vehicles require more set-up outside and a lot of physical labor.
    • Consider heat for patrons use – senior patron visits need to be in the cooler a.m.
    • Some libraries may consider future partners who have available indoor space in the summer.
    • Dress codes may differ for mobile/outreach services – esp. in the summer. – “dress professionally for the job you have” – but other staff may not be OK with it, so having other staff ride along may help them to understand better.  Some libraries say “wear your nametag” as the only dress code policy
    • Strange expenditures – finance dept. asked why they spent money on sunscreen, wasp, spider spray – need to advocate for a safe work environment.

At the 5/12/23 “On the Move” Chat we discussed:

  • The need for safety checks/checklist – one bookmobile driver was seated and ready to drive off and didn’t realize there was a toddler standing in front the vehicle. Her coworker saw the child and alerted the driver, as the driver had a blind spot when seated at the wheel. An important part of every mobile stop is safety.  Concern for the lone library staff member was also brought up. What safety rules and procedures do other libraries have in place for their mobile services? We agreed this could be a whole hour’s discussion of it’s own.
  • Special events on the bookmobile! Such as, scavenger hunts with monthly themes like “bugs” or having a bookmobile mascot that moves around each week. What special events or activities does your library offer through mobile services?
  • What about bookmobile sponsorships? Does anyone utilize the outside of the vehicle to drum up corporate or private donor sponsorships?– see Alaska’s Sponsor-A-Spine example.
  • A few participants discussed how they use their mobile service to serve seniors, such as by circulating “grab-bag” style large print kits at their senior center visits and providing welcome packets to new senior facilities with: Talking Book Service program info, programming for older adults flyer, homebound delivery schedule, and a library welcome letter.

Rolling list of future “On the Move” LITT Chat topics include:

  • Food/hygiene and other products – should/how are mobile services providing them
  • Safety considerations & procedures – for the vehicles, staff, and patrons

Since it was our first chat and we didn’t have a set agenda, we took the time to each introduce ourselves and share a little bit about our mobile services experience, set-up, and questions for future exploration. We also asked folks to share on the topic of: What’s your goal with mobile services? Who are you trying to serve? Some of those opening comments/questions were:

  • Mobile services are more than transactional, they are relationship builders.
  • We’ve always had outreach at the core of our service model, but then COVID hit. Gaining an actual vehicle enabled us to still offer outreach services during this time.
  • Materials access is not always the most important part – sometimes it’s the human/social connection that is most important to the patron.
  • How do mobile services relate to your strategic plan?
  • What are your weather policies? (i.e. do you cancel services when bus is too hot or too old?
  • What are you hold policies (i.e. how long do you hold a book on the bookmobile if they are not at their stop that week?)
  • Lots of questions about space – space on the bookmobile and space (i.e. shelf space) back at a local branch to utilize when the bookmobile is full.
  • Relationship between front line staff at a branch and bookmobile staff – conflicts can arise. How do you handle them?
  • Community-specific needs – mobile services are not a one-size fits all situation.
  • The care and feeding of your bookmobile or mobile service unit. What does this look like?
  • Technical/mechanical questions about Wi-Fi, liftgates, and generators, (oh my!)

We discussed some nuts & bolts about the “On the Move” group:

  • This group should be more than about bookmobiles – include district-wide services that are mobile, e-book bikes, mobile STEM units, etc.
  • This group will meet once every 2 months to start, instead of once per quarter like most other ICfL LITT Chats.
  • This group is still debating the set-up of a specific Listserv for this LITT Chat as most mobile services staff already utilize the well-sourced ABOS Listserv (you can sign up here: https://abos-outreach.com/listserv/). An Idaho-specific “On the Move” listserv is still to-be-determined.

Future “On the Move” LITT Chat Topics were brainstormed:

  • Collection development;
  • Food/hygiene and other products – should/how are mobile services providing them;
  • Safety considerations – of mobile services staff and patrons;

Questions or comments about LITT: On The Move chats?

Contact – Kristina Taylor or Deana Brown 

LITT EVENTS

Early Learning LITT Discussion

August 15, 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm MDT

LITT: On the Move – Summer Outreach Successes!

August 20, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm MDT

Early Learning LITT Discussion

October 17, 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm MDT

Early Learning LITT Discussion

December 19, 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm MST

Kristina Taylor

Kristina Taylor

Outreach & Family Engagement Consultant
Email / 208-639-4136
Read my Blogs

Deana Brown

Adult Services Consultant
Email / 208-639-4156
Read my Blogs