March 2015 UBFP Column – My Day as a Traveling Librarian

I write for the UBFP Newspaper!

I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Upper Bucks Free Press (the newspaper I write for) for the March 2015 issue! The street and online version were just published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE or on the column picture (see page 8) or you can read the whole story – plus some extra things I’ve thrown in – below! 😀


I hope you like the article!


My Day as a Traveling Librarian

By Erik Weibel

Recently, I was able to take part in a great learning experience. I was an apprentice traveling librarian with the Columbia County Traveling Library (CCTL). The American Library Association reports that there are less than 1000 bookmobiles in America today. It is estimated that only 37 bookmobiles exist in Pennsylvania. What is unique about the CCTL is that it is the ONLY library in Pennsylvania whose primary function is that of a bookmobile.


The CCTL is committed to bringing library services to the citizens of rural Columbia County PA. The bookmobile makes stops at specific locations every 2 weeks. It serves people who would otherwise not have access to a free public library, or the means to get to one. The Director and Head Librarian of the CCTL, Dr. Lydia Kegler, agreed to let me hang out for a day’s route aboard the bookmobile and learn what a CCTL librarian does.

The CCTL has a small brick and mortar location in Scott Township, PA where they house a large part of their collection. That’s where my day began. “Most of the work in libraries is done before the book hits the shelf,” Dr. Kegler states, as she hands me a book to shelve. Librarians must find the books of interest to their patrons, buy the books, protect the books with an outer wrap, code the book, catalog the book, and shelve it. On top of all that, because this library is a bookmobile, they’ve got to gas up and make sure the brakes work! Dr. Kegler explains to me that, because the CCTL is a small organization, everyone does a bit of everything. Some bigger libraries have more specialized librarians who focus on a certain job, but at smaller libraries like the CCTL, Librarians find themselves doing all sorts of jobs. Dr. Kegler is the manager, head librarian and occasional bookmobile operator.

From here, we loaded up the bookmobile with the books it needed for today’s journey. Dr. Kegler gave me a crate of books that will go to a retirement home. She explained that the bookmobile leaves a collection of books at the home for the residents and every so often they go and refresh the collection and change some books out. Next, we found some books that patrons had requested through the online reservation system. “This person wanted this book on China,” Dr. Kegler says pointing out a book. “I know this family is a homeschooling family. They may be doing a lesson. Look, here are two more useful books on China. We’ll bring those along too just in case they may want them.”

I add the books on China to another crate that is over-flowing with books. “This here is a handtruck.” Mrs. Kegler smiles at me. “We use this as a means to carry the crates of books that are needed for this trip to the bookmobile.” She helps me load two plastic crates onto the handtruck, and I push it through the hallway, out to the bookmobile. I hand up the crates to her and she sets them down inside.

We make one last trip into the building to grab a quick lunch and make a run to the restroom. One of the hazards of working on a bookmobile in a rural area; no bathroom breaks. Once on the bookmobile, Dr. Kegler checks it out to make sure it is safe to drive. As we buckle into our seats, Dr. Kegler smiles and dons a pair of sunglasses. “Cool shades are a necessary part of being a bookmobile librarian too, you know.” I quickly put on a pair of aviator glasses. Cool indeed.



               Our first stop is a preschool. The young kids climbed onto the bookmobile with books in their hands, and excited looks on their faces. I was put in charge of using the stamper, for the due dates, and the scanner, for checking in/out. The scanner wasn’t working 100% of the time (that may have been a function of my inexperience). Let me tell you, a line of frustrated, impatient preschoolers in front of you isn’t a pretty sight. Luckily, I got the job done in time, thanks to Dr. Kegler’s expertise in running the scanner (and soothing angry preschoolers). The bookmobile is surprisingly large inside. At that one stop, there were 10-12 kids and 3 adult helpers comfortably fitting inside. That’s also with Dr. Kegler and me behind the circulation desk at the front of the bookmobile.


 After the preschool, we go to three more stops in the area. As we are rolling along the windy, snow covered roads, Dr. Kegler points out one of the marvels that you don’t normally find at a regular library – the weather change! While we were driving, the weather conditions went from snow squalls to a brilliantly sunny day.

When asked the oddest request that she’s received as the librarian, Dr. Kegler responded that once a man came on asking for the instruction manual for a certain model of a blowtorch. Regrettably, they did not have what he was asking for.


At each of the next stops, I would make the rounds and pick up any books that may have slid off the shelves while driving (surprisingly, there are very few). I’d also reshelve books that were checked in from the previous stop.

Dr. Kegler explained to me that the CCTL is currently trying to raise money to replace their aging bookmobile. Their current bookmobile is 17 years old and has over 100,000 miles on it. Dr. Kegler hopes to get some technological devices inside of the new bookmobile to make it easy for residents to find what they are looking for and a computer station so that patrons who don’t have access to a computer or the internet can use it on the bookmobile.

Sadly, Dr. Kegler wouldn’t let me drive the bookmobile (something about lawsuits and her losing her job) but, even with that disappointment, I had a great day and learned a lot.

If you are interested in learning more about the CCTL, please visit their website –

For more on books and reading, visit my website –



Categories: Newspaper Columns, Other Stuff Related to Books and Reading

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64 replies

  1. WONDERFUL! Just so you know… Neighbor Girl is sitting here reading this with a huge amount of envy. She is continually denied volunteer hours at our local library due to her age. She just said, “He even got to scan!” 🙂
    Seriously,though, we are all super happy that you have a great mobile librarian who recognizes your talent. Thanks for sharing your day with us – it was great to read!
    Love the video!
    ~The Gang

  2. Erik, what an awesome experience for you…especially coping with impatient preschoolers. Yes, they’re enough to make you hurry in a big way-they wield such power. Too bad she wouldn’t let you drive…alas…sounds like she felt your talents would be better used shelving 🙁

  3. A well written article. And what a fabulous experience for you. Too bad you couldn´t drive the bookmobile but I´m sure you will get a chance one day. You will just need a special hat!! 🙂

  4. Great job and wonderful that the CCTL is providing this service! Fostering a love of reading in young people is one of the most important things we can do 🙂

  5. I am a little envious that you got to do this. The article is so well written. I could see you setting up initiatives like this in the future!

  6. Fantastic article Erik!! This is my Mom Person’s dream. To have her own bookmobile! Thanks for sharing!

  7. You, sir, are an amazing journalist. Well done!

  8. Oh my heavens, I love this post 🙂 What a neat experience. I live in a rural community and see an occasional bookmobile (I didn’t know they were so rare), even though we have a couple of small Carnegie libraries. I will appreciate them more now after reading your post.

  9. What a great story for the paper and your readers. I remember the excitement of looking forward to the bookmobile visits during the summers as a child. They weren’t as big as this one. I love that they visit nursing homes. I’m so glad to know they still exist — because there are so many kids who wouldn’t have access to books in rural areas. In Ohio, they also bookmobiles visit Rehab programs and prisons in rural areas. Thanks for sharing. It sounded like a fun experience for you!

  10. This is fantastic, Erik!!! A new PB idea: Don’t Let Erik Drive the Bookmobile! LOL

  11. What a great day! Preschooles are impatient! And elemetary schools students too, I’m sure! You were such a big help!! Maybe you can drive the bookmobile when you get your license!

  12. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Book Reviewer – Blogger – Author – and now Travelling Librarian!
    Not bad going for a 13 year old 😀 😀 😀

  13. Wow. What a fantastically written article. It is DONUT worthy. LOVE to see pictures of you. You are the absolute best. I mean that. Hehehe, I figured you’d want to drive that puppy. I sure hope they are able to raise funds for the bookmobile. It sounds like it might need a rest. Tweeting and sharing your post. (Have a donut!) Oops, I *ahem* ate them all.

  14. Of course you asked to drive. LOL. What a great service the book mobile provides and a wonderful experience for you.

  15. Aw, man! You didn’t get to drive!! Sounds like an awesome day on the job, Erik.

  16. This is great, Erik! Yay bookmobiles. Truly wonderful that they exist.

  17. Thank you for sharing this outstanding story with us Erik. Happy to know the clitch with the scanner was corrected. As a former preschool teacher, I can just see all of the four and five year olds planning becoming impatient with you! They want their books. ~Suzy Leopold

  18. Wow, Erik, you really are Super! I want to be you when I grow up. Keep doing the good work and being who you are 🙂

  19. What a fab experience, Erik! We used to have a mobile library park up right outside our house at the village hall car park. I have fond memories of book hunting there. How great that you can pre-order books and drop some off at old folks homes.

  20. Wow! What a great article — loved hearing all about this wonderful experience. Bookmobiles are so cool!

  21. What a great experience, and what a well-written article! I love libraries, but I had no idea how a book mobile worked. Now I do!

  22. Nothing is cooler than a bookmobile – unless maybe being the librarian of a bookmobile. Cool!

  23. What a wonderful day! And a terrific article, Erik!

  24. Hi Erik,
    I read with interest your experience as a travelling librarian. Indeed a creative idea to reach out to the less privilege who could not have access to a library. Well Done!

  25. Oh, that sounds like so much fun Erik. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  26. That is awesome, Erik! I love how librarians like Dr. Kegler so often go above and beyond, like when she grabbed the extra books on China for the homeschool family. Librarians are fantastic!! Great article. Thanks!

  27. This is really great Erik. You are doing so much to promote reading and showing other kids how cool books really are. Well done!

  28. This is awesome, Erik! I’m constantly amazed at all you do! I have fond memories of the bookmobile!

  29. Erik, this looks like SO much fun! I actually get all sentimental with the whole warm/fuzzy thing going on when I think about bookmobiles (and libraries/bookstores, in general!). Although I lived in the Bronx as a kid and I went to the local library, I also remember a bookmobile 🙂

    I kept thinking about all those books falling off shelves if you had to make a sudden sharp turn! Maybe bungee cords strung across, or a giant pull-down shade on a track! SOMEthing! lol

    So, how did you end up becoming this apprentice for a day? 🙂

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