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Libraries (back) on Wheels: Digital Libraries on Wheels

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One of my first full-time library assistant jobs out of high school was on a bookmobile. It was a great job for so many reasons, for the people who would not otherwise have had any library service and for the library staff who got to visit hidden pockets of our city while listening to the Watergate hearings on the radio. (It was great prep for college, law school, and library school 🙂

But bookmobiles have been phased out over the years, or so I thought. Here’s a creative use of a Library-mobile, rather than a Book-mobile. I could see doing this with Oregon public law library research materials!

The next phase of libraries rolls into town, by Sarah More McCann, Christian Science Monitor, September 5, 2008 edition (found via Library Link of the Day),

“In a time when practically any question can be answered through a Google search, brick-and-mortar libraries are evolving to remain relevant.

Rather than cede ground to search engines, e-book readers, and download services, more than 7,500 US libraries are adopting their competitor’s tricks and offering digital means to access books, music, and movies – free of charge.

The embodiment of this effort parked outside Boston’s City Hall last week.

Inside the 75-foot-long, 18-wheel bookmobile are computer workstations, portable download devices, even a souped-up lounge replete with a “pleather” couch and a flat-screen TV – all designed to teach Bostonians how to use the newest in librarian tech: the digital lending library.

The bookmobile reveals the best-kept secret librarians don’t want to keep, say Boston Public Library staff and employees of OverDrive Inc., a Cleveland-based supplier of electronic and audio books, video, and music. Many of the nation’s libraries use OverDrive for 24-hour access to digital collections that patrons can “check out” on their own laptop, Blackberry, MP3 player, or other hand-held devices.

This newfound digital omnipresence means Web-enabled devices can complement – rather than supplant – local libraries, says Jim Rettig, president of the American Library Association.

“We build intellectual capacity with little loans that, together, make a big difference,” he says.

Some 53 percent of Americans visited a library last year, according to a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, and patrons checked out 2.1 billion items in 2005, reports the National Center for Education Statistics….” (read full article)