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New bookmobile serves underserved communities in Ada County

Ada Community Library’s new full-service mobile library lends books, exercise gear, movies, and interactive tools.

ADA COUNTY, Idaho — Many people love trips to local libraries, but not all Ada County communities have easy access to one. To help change that, Ada Community Library has gone mobile.

The new bookmobile is a full-service library on wheels, intended to serve unincorporated and underserved parts of Ada County.

“What we do is go around areas where there is a high need. Whether that's an at-risk youth population or newcomer population or a population saying that's far from city amenities," said Molly Nota, Ada Community Library's community engagement librarian.

Bookmobiles aren't a new concept in Idaho, but Nota says the need for them is growing.

"We found that over the course of the pandemic in 2020 our community really felt isolated, and we got feedback that we needed to meet people where they were at,” Nota said.

According to Ada Community Library data, 11,652 people in Ada County have library cards. Nota said there are many people living in Idaho without access to a library, and she hopes the bookmobile will change that.

"I do worry about children who aren't exposed to library services or don't have library cards because they are missing out on those experiences that can help facilitate lifelong learning,” she said.

The bookmobile hosted a soft launch earlier this year during spring break for schools in Ada County, and it has already impacted families.

"I think it's great! Anytime we increase access to the library it's a benefit to the whole community," said Karma Nalder, a parent and library visitor. "Having that library card just opens the world.”

The bookmobile doesn’t have a regular schedule just yet, but schools and organizations can request a visit.

"Any organization can fill out an interest form and we can see how we can accommodate it,” Nota said.

The bookmobile offers more than books. Users may also check out fitness gear, movies and interactive tools.

“It's a way for them to gain confidence, to gain skills that are going to be applicable later in life,” Nota said.

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