Mobile library serves community needs in COVID times

The mobile library resumed service in May, with staff saying patrons are extra grateful to receive the service

The TNRD’s new Mobile Library has been on the road for the past two years. Things look a little different this year. Photo by Joel Barde.

The Thompson Nicola Regional District’s (TNRD) Mobile Library may look a little bit different this year, but it’s still seeing plenty of action, having restarted in late May after a short hiatus during the period of time in which much of the economy was shut down due to COVID-19. 

Visitors will have noticed that a few things are different, starting with the style of service. 

Patrons can no longer get on board and browse the Mobile Library’s contents in person. In pre-COVID times, groups of up to a dozen people, often whole families, would climb aboard and see what’s on offer. 

That said, the friendly staff at the Mobile Library has been compensating and helping the public where they can.    

Mike Brown, who works the Mobile Library along with Grant Swyers, said the service largely delivers people’s orders and picks up books from patrons. 

Brown said  the team is now pre-packaging orders ahead of time so  they are ready to go and contact is minimized. 

“We’ve found it to be much more efficient, to have people’s holds ready for them,” said Brown.  “When they approach the truck, we just say, ‘Here’s your stuff that you ordered,’ and away they go.” 

Brown added that he and his partner have taken it upon themselves to put together packages of suggested books  they know a patron might like, having gotten to know their reading tastes over the years. 

The Mobile Library has taken other steps to ensure safety. Workers are masked up, and interactions between the public and staff are minimized.  

A vinyl curtain was also installed on the bus. Brown noted  this wasn’t for COVID safety, but rather to keep out the cold.

And apparently the curtain has come in handy. Brown last visited Sun Peaks on Feb. 11. 

“That’s when we had our big cold snap,” recalled Brown. 

“It was – 24C outside, but inside the truck it remained above zero. I was quite happy with that.” 

Brown also used to work in tandem with Swyers on the bus, with both going on deliveries. That too has changed. 

Now one of them stays in town, using the downtime to package orders. 

The other is responsible for driving to the various locations and delivering books.  

The TNRD’s Mobile Library—which replaced the TNRD’s previous ‘Bookmobile’ in 2018—provides service to locations not serviced by libraries, including Lac Le Jeune, Spences Bridge and Sun Peaks. 

Like everyone, Brown is keen to see things return to normal. But he’s been encouraged by how stoked people are to access the library’s service. 

“I would say people are definitely a lot more grateful to have to have the service,” he said. 

The TNRD’s mobile library will be in Sun Peaks on March 12, between 2 and 3 p.m.
You can see a schedule of its dates and also order books here.

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