The Santa Barbara Public Library (SBPL) will be adding a mobile library branch — Library on the Go —and hitting the road this year, thanks to support from the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation.
With the mission of providing a range of library services to South County residents, Library on the Go will deliver more than just books to those with limited library access.
Over the last three years, SBPL has made great strides in taking library programs and services into the community. With pop-up library programming at local schools, senior living facilities, and community events, SBPL staff have provided story times for families, book clubs and technology assistance for seniors, and STEAM programming for those unable to get to an SBPL site.
“We’ve been successful at taking some of our regular library programming out into the community, and we have established a number of key community partners, but we’ve been limited in what we can provide by lack of a dedicated vehicle designed for this purpose,” said Jessica Cadiente, library director.
That’s where the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara stepped in with a $100,000 grant, allowing the library to move ahead with the project.
Looking to support early literacy and library services to underserved residents unable to visit the Carpinteria, Eastside, Montecito or Santa Barbara locations, the grant lets the library to meet users where they are.
“A mobile van to store and transport the supplies and technology needed to offer everything from early literacy classes to resume review workshops, plus a browsing collection of popular books will allow us to reach more people more efficiently," said Cadiente.
"It will truly allow staff to recreate the experience of visiting the library outside of our buildings,” she said.
The Library on the Go Team will work with community partners and residents to determine weekly stops throughout the SBPL service area, including the city of Santa Barbara, Montecito and Carpinteria.
Beyond providing library materials to check out, trained staff will offer Stay and Play programming for children and caregivers; SBPL’s Works! program, which helps job-seekers find jobs and build workforce readiness skills; and one-to-one technology support for seniors who want to learn how to use their mobile devices.
With public health concerns over large gatherings likely to continue for some time, this model will also allow for expanded reach outside the library’s building.
“The foundation has been proud to support the library’s extraordinary efforts to reach out to our community, even through the pandemic," said Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation director Lauren Trujillo. "A mobile library van will continue to be an important access point for services, especially for the most vulnerable members of our community.”