Libraries are not defined only by the physical buildings we occupy but by what we offer: information, connection to community resources, access to tools to bridge the digital divide, and learning opportunities for all ages. Library on the Go is Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s (CRRL) innovative approach to bring library programs and services to those who are most in need but who may not be able to get to a library branch or may not feel comfortable doing so.
The most recent addition to CRRL’s Library on the Go initiative is a Youth Services programming van. Staff take the van to stops in the community with the goal of reaching individuals and families at a variety of locations, with special focus on serving economically disadvantaged communities. A wide variety of resources are available at each stop: educational toys and early literacy classes for preschoolers; STEM learning stations and homework help for elementary, middle, and high school students; a collection of books, audiobooks, and DVDs; and computers and printers with internet access. The van houses a hotspot, so people visiting with their own devices have access to Wi-Fi.
In addition, staff provide support and help for families with an online language learning program, help with job searches and the application process, and connecting them with community resources as needed. The Library on the Go Youth Services programming van has been customized with an onboard generator to provide power for the printer and laptops, a retractable awning that can open during warmer weather for outside classes, and plenty of secure storage options for transporting seating, books, and materials from stop to stop.
On its face, the Library on the Go Youth Services programming van sounds like the bookmobiles of old but this outreach effort offers so much more—CRRL is bringing truly the best of our library facilities out into our neighborhoods and communities. Though all in-person programming is currently on hold because of COVID-19, CRRL looks forward to being back on the road with this unique service, bringing all the library has to offer to our most vulnerable populations.