CCLD’s biggest marketing tool is its Mobile Branch, otherwise known as the Big Blue Bus or the Bookmobile. Its exterior is covered with colorful graphic drawings of happy children reading on a rocket ship, in a tower, a tree, a plane, and on the Chemung River. These smart illustrations were custom designed by nationally known, local children’s author, Tedd Arnold.
Even if you’ve never used any of our County libraries, you can’t NOT notice this huge book filled vehicle traveling around the streets. It’s a reminder to everyone that our Chemung Libraries exist and are accessible at many locations. Currently, our Bookmobile maintains 47 different stops within a 2 week rotating schedule. Stops vary from neighborhood parks to elderly apartments to community centers and daycares and schools. The Mobile Branch team consists of driver Kim Jones, storytelling clerk Sue Schoeffler, and substitute driver Dave Swartwood. School classes are treated to stories during their visit and most are permitted to browse and check out a book to keep until the next time the Bookmobile returns. Elderly individuals look forward to the Bookmobile’s visit to keep them stocked up with their favorite author’s books.
Besides, its regular stops, our Bookmobile participates in as many community events as possible. This year, the Bookmobile made a big presence riding in the Horseheads and Elmira Memorial Day parades and will be seen in the Elmira Downtown Holiday Parade. Those who attended the Family Reading Partnership’s Bookfest, Horseheads Family Days, Wellsburg Village Days, the Van Etten Festival or Strong Kids Safe Kids events may remember seeing the Bookmobile. Many times, the staff will set up an outdoor table, distribute information about the Library District, and provide activities for children. They have 2 very loyal and dedicated volunteers, Liz and Fred Southard, who have helped at most of these events. We are most appreciative of the time Liz and Fred give to the Bookmobile!
The Bookmobile staff opens their doors to everyone to come, look around, apply for a library card and check out something to take home. The bus houses DVDs and audiobooks too. They can assist with inquiries about downloading eBooks or recent publications. If they don’t house an item, in most cases, they can borrow it from another library for you.
We are very fortunate to have such a wonderful, visible, and accessible Mobile Library in Chemung County. If you’ve not been inside, take a look at the schedule on our website https://www.ccld.lib.ny.us/bookmobile.htm and visit the Bookmobile soon.
CCLD Growth and Development Coordinator
Who was the first bookmobile driver in Chemung County for the Steele Memorial Library? Thompson E. Williams?
Hello, sorry for the delayed response. We checked with Bill Knapp, a former Bookmobile driver, and he said, “Tommy was the first and I believed he started in 1949, I think fresh out of the military. I took over in 1974.” Let us know if you have any other questions.
You are correct! I am Tommy’s daughter and I remember my dad teaching Bill Knapp. I’m wondering why it’s not part of Elmira’s History? After all, he was the first African American ever to drive in Chemung County.
Here is a link to a video we did on the bookmobile history. We hope you enjoy. And it’s a great idea to write up a more extensive history. We’ll link it here when we do. Thanks for the idea!