Yesterday we visited two libraries in two sweet towns and topped it off with the fundraiser for the Humboldt County Library. Today is much the same--we're traveling to Mendocino county to visit two libraries, and then we head back to San Francisco. The phone just woke us all up before our alarm, and I tumbled around, trying to find a way to make it stop. It was the front desk at our hotel, telling us the bookmobile was about to be towed, due to the farmer's market setting up in the square. What a rude awakening, and what kind of person would tow a bookmobile???
As Brewster Kahle cautioned, practice, practice, and more practice is required to perfect the setup, the bookmaking, and the break down of the bookmobile. He spoke the truth, and as we embark upon our last days of the tour, I thought I'd list some of the hard lessons of the road. :)
As I mentioned earlier, we've established a ritual of visiting each library before showing up in the bookmobile. As a trio of librarians and library users, we like to check out public libraries whether we're on a bookmobile or on vacation.
So when we set up shop at the Humboldt County Library just a few minutes ago, we expected we'd maintain our incognito status. This time, we were wrong.
The Internet Archive Bookmobile is a real draw and is real fun for everyone. Most people can't help but stop and learn what we're doing, parked near the doors of public libraries. We've chatted with people of all ages and of all stripes. What fascinates me most is what interests people about the bookmobile. Librarians talk about collection development and linking to the online texts, while kids and adults get excited about free books, music, and film, and ALL ages love the slicer (we named it Sally):
Sad days have come upon the Internet Archive bookmobile and a mysterious computer problem has surfaced with my work computer. Good thing I brought backups: we may be forced to turn my Subaru into a bookmobile, and I'm using a spare laptop to access the Internet.
We’ve established a daily ritual on the bookmobile tour: upon arriving to each town we find and follow the signs to the public library. This exercise is a good indicator for how the library fits into the community. Is it on the outskirts? Is it near the center of town? Are there clear signs indicating the way there? Are there signs? Depending on our answer, we can surmise what type of town we're entering.
I love traveling the back roads, stopping at small towns, and musing about what makes them tick. That's why this trip has been so special: I'm doing what I love and learning while I do it. I've never visited small towns in California, and I've enjoyed comparing and contrasting them to my own experiences in small, Midwestern cities. There's a slight adventurous side to these West Coast towns, a wild west personality that's absent from the more staid and reserved heartland.
When we see a library, we stop. And when we leave our keys in the bookmobile ignition and smartly lock the doors, we stay a little longer.
This was the case when we arrived at the Redding Library on Sunday, when James, ever conscious of safety, made our trip a little more interesting. Lucky for us, we were at the the perfect spot to research our next stop while he chatted with Robyn from AAA about our predicament.