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Forsyth County Public Library launches Bookmobile, ‘Opportunity on Wheels’ for underserved areas of Forsyth
The FCPL Bookmobile is complete with a myriad of books for children and adults, Wi-Fi access and computer work stations. The vehicle will begin its tour of Forsyth County in Dec. 2020. - photo by For the FCN

The Forsyth County Library hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the launch of its latest project, the Bookmobile on Monday, Nov. 16 at Hampton Library with some familiar faces from across the county including Commissioners Dennis Brown, Molly Cooper, Cindy Jones Mills and Chairwoman Laura Semanson.

The Bookmobile was funded entirely on impact fees and will make its official debut in the month of December. The vehicle will be traveling to over 20 locations throughout the course of the month in order to gauge the public’s need and response. 

Director of the FCPL Anna Lyle was excited to announce the completion of the Bookmobile project as it had been almost two full years in the making. 

“This is going to allow us to do three things,” Lyle said. “Identify and remove barriers to access to service, provide library services to traditionally underserved populations and expand awareness and outreach.”

Chairwoman Laura Semanson remarked that the Bookmobile provided her with a sense of nostalgia because she has treasured childhood memories of a bookmobile. 

Mary Helen McGruder, chairwoman of the FCPL Board of Trustees, said how grateful she was to everyone that had been involved in the process along the way, including the commissioners, FCPL employees and local residents. 

“Within the library itself, I am so honored to serve with such a library board,” McGruder said. “We’ve got a really great group, and we appreciate being able to work together. And … the Board of Commissioners who are very supportive of us.”

Director of the FCPL Anna Lyle gives a speech about the planning and preparations needed to facilitate the Bookmobile project. She worked closely with many members of the community and FCPL employees. - photo by For the FCN

Outreach Manager Sarah Reynolds along with Outreach Specialists Lorraine Lane and Joan Goforth started the initial planning for the Bookmobile in January 2019. 

“It’s all been a little bit surreal,” Reynolds said. “I think the first time we check something out is when it’s going to hit me that, ‘We are at a mobile home park, and we’re going to be back, and these kids have books.’ That’s when it’s going to be real for me.”

Reynolds, Lane and Goforth took classes together at the CDL Licensing center alongside truckers. While they initially felt a little nervous driving such large vehicles, they wanted to feel confident behind the wheel of the Bookmobile so they could confidently deliver library services to underserved areas in the county. 

“It’s been very humbling,” Lane said, “To get in the truck and drive it for the first time — we definitely had some angst about that.”

Mills said how glad she was to see how many new opportunities will be offered to children, adults and seniors throughout the county. 

“It would always break my heart, that here we have a free facility that [the kids] can go to, but they don’t have anybody that can take them,” Mills said.  “Time and time again, you hear from children, especially the children that don’t go to the libraries, that they always have an issue of transportation.”

The Bookmobile is a direct result of the FCPL’s plan to lower barriers around the public that prevent people from using technology, Wi-Fi and books. With the launch of the Bookmobile, the FCPL strives to reach all of Forsyth County, specifically places where there is not a functioning library facility. 

“I think that it can open up a new world to people, because that’s what books do — that’s what the internet can do,” Mills said. “It can provide an opportunity to people that might not have the same opportunities that my children have.” 

Mills also said how fantastic the Bookmobile will be for seniors in Forsyth County, as residents who might not leave their homes as often. 

“The opportunity on wheels that it’s going to bring to every resident of Forsyth County is probably one of the greatest things that we’ve been able to put impact fees to use in a long, long time,” Mills said, “And for that, I’m very excited.”

Commissioner Ciny Jones Mills, Mary Helen McGruder and Chairwoman Laura Semanson each get a hand on the scissors to cut the ceremonial ribbon for the FCPL Bookmobile launch. - photo by For the FCN