It's important to have fixed criteria for determining if the library's vehicle can and will add another stop to one of its routes. Considerations to include might be staff time, proximity to the library and other stops, length of stop, parking space, and neighborhood interest.
Here are some examples of guidelines used by other outreach systems:
Using a rubric can be a helpful way to assess a potential stop location:
If the outreach vehicle is being requested to stop at another organization such as a nursing home, school, or recreation center, there are additional considerations needed. Consider having a memo of understanding or agreement with the facility in order to ensure that both parties are holding up their end of the bargain. An agreement may address if bookmobile staff can enter the building, where they would set up if it is a "lobby stop," who at the facility is in charge of communicating with patrons, etc.
Below are some examples:
Unfortunately, sometimes a stop is no longer serving its purpose—it either doesn't fit into the bookmobile's schedule or is not as heavily attended as it was at the beginning. The library should have ongoing evaluations of all of its stops. Often, it is helpful to use the same criteria used to establish a stop. For example, a library may choose to only add a new stop if there are 10 patrons interested, and if the stop only has 3 patrons attend for several months in a row, it may be time to consider moving the day or time of the stop or discontinue it completely.
If the time comes to cancel a particular stop or route, communicate to the patrons that attend there that bookmobile service will be discontinuing.
After coordinating agreements, times, and locations for all of the library's stops for an outreach vehicle, it's important to market the stops and services provided far and wide!
There are a variety of ways to showcase your vehicle's routes and stops using a calendar, map, or list format—or a combination of all three! The most important thing is to make sure that patrons know where the bookmobile can be found on any given day and what days the bookmobile is coming to their neighborhood stop.
Bookmobile Schedule and Route Examples:
Not everybody is comfortable driving a bookmobile. The size can be overwhelming, but few require a CDL. When hiring, make sure candidates know that they will be expected to drive as a regular part of their job. Other requirements might be driving training, following safety practices like no cellphone usage while driving, and comfort working a stop alone or with only one backup staff. They'll also need to meet the other qualifications needed to do their library duties. Below are some sample job descriptions and trainings for bookmobile drivers:
No matter how much you want it to, sometimes the weather will not cooperate. Make sure drivers and patrons aren't endangered and cancel or delay stops when there are bad driving conditions such as high winds, strong thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes, or blizzards. Extreme temperatures can also be dangerous. While it's in our nature to "tough it out" in incredibly low temperatures, please remember that if there is a vehicle malfunction like an accident or flat tire, staff will be out in the elements trying to do repairs. In high temperatures, vehicles may overheat which would, again, leave staff unprotected while they wait for assistance. Staff should feel empowered to make their own decisions to leave a stop, end the route, or not leave a location if they feel unsafe driving.
The library should have ways of informing the public of these changes such as using social media, website, and phone calls to facilities
Many of these resources and programs are funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.