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Published July 25th 2020
When the library comes to you
With local libraries re-opening after their COVID shut down, Brisbane City Council makes it easy to borrow from its extensive collection of glossy magazines, fiction stories and informative non-fiction reference items by bringing them closer to you through their mobile and pop up libraries.
What is a mobile library you ask? Well, being mobile means it is a library that can move between sites around Brisbane. The library is in a custom-built vehicle that contains shelves housing a collection of some 6000 books, magazine and audio material as well as access to the broader library collection for the public to borrow.
Being a book buff, I was keen to experience it for myself. I visited the mobile library when it came to the Ashgrove Golf Club at The Gap - just one of its stops. The library rests in the car park of the Golf Club every second Friday.
From the outside, the library looks like a standard albeit unique, oversized, painted truck. Quite unassuming really. But go to the back of the truck (past the mural of a woman reading a book under the Brisbane Story Bridge on the side of the vehicle,)
Simply take hold of the yellow railing, wander up the steps and get ready to take a whole literary experience in your local community.
The council isn't kidding when they say Custom Built. This is no ordinary truck. The mobile library features a sheltered, covered deck, a lift for wheelchairs and prams, solar panels, internet computers and a Wi-Fi hotspot. There is an extension pod at the side of the library to add extra space to the vehicle which is helpful particularly for activities and programs.
On my visit, I was met by librarians Gerald and Roxanne who welcomed me in and talked me through how it all works. It's the same as going to one of the stand-alone library buildings. You can browse the library collection of books, magazines and newspapers and borrow items to take home, including children's picture books, adult fiction and fastback titles. In addition, visitors can enjoy library programs, including children's storytime sessions, craft, games, basic coding and robotics workshops. (Note: The interactive programs may be on hold due to COVID 19 restrictions).
And if you can't find it, you can search on the PC besides the counter. The library is a long, single aisle and not at all dark or enclosing. In fact it is very brightly lit and easy to view the collection, making you forget it's not a stand-alone building.
Search the collection to find what you are looking for
As a newcomer, I wondered whether this is a new and novel service. I discovered that mobile libraries have been operating and servicing the community with books since 5 March 1970. The current modern state of the art vehicle is 4 years old but in the past, they have even been housed in more simple converted council buses.
Today, the librarians even drive the trucks to each destination themselves. Talk about being 'multi-skilled.'
Mobile libraries of the past. Photo courtesy Brisbane Libraries facebook
Gerald and Roxanne are clearly proud of the mobile library and the service it offers and happy to help. Just like other council libraries, borrowing is free. Simply use your existing library card or sign up when you visit.
Mobile libraries travel to and set up at Aspley, Bellbowrie, Brighton, Ellen Grove, Forest Lake, Manly West, Mt Crosby and The Gap. So, what could be easier? If you get the chance, be sure to stop by the nearest mobile library in your area for something different in choosing your next favourite read.
Aspley mobile library
Location: Aspley mobile library, Corner Gayford and Albany Creek Roads, Aspley
Opening hours: Monday fortnightly from 1pm - 4pm, excludes public holidays.
Bellbowrie mobile library
Location: Bellbowrie mobile library, Bellbowrie Shopping Plaza carpark, off Birkin Road, Bellbowrie
Good informative article Gillian. It's nice to see them coming back. We had one here in Lilydale many years ago until it got stuck trying to drive under a low bridge. It then became a stationary bus. Neil.