GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Michigan News Source) — Building on the success of its 2023 pilot program, the Grand Rapids Public Library is reviving its mobile library initiative, bringing essential resources directly to underserved neighborhoods across the city.

Grand Rapids’ program, led by Erin Antes, has shown remarkable success in its second year. The initiative, which launched its pilot in the summer of 2023, saw over 600 visitors, more than 500 items checked out, and 100 new library cards issued. 

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Antes, the youth outreach librarian at Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL), highlighted the importance of reaching communities facing geographical and socioeconomic barriers. “The goal is to bring the mobile library to people where they live,” she told MLive.

The concept of mobile libraries is not new. The first bookmobiles date back to the early 20th century when horse-drawn carriages were used to deliver books to rural communities. Over the decades, the idea evolved, with motorized vehicles becoming the norm by the mid-1900s. These early efforts laid the foundation for modern mobile libraries, which now often include digital resources and internet access in addition to traditional books.

In its current form, the Grand Rapids mobile library offers a variety of materials, including youth-focused reads, Spanish-language books, and various adult fiction and nonfiction titles. 

The mobile library is also available for community events throughout the year. It can be seen at festivals, neighborhood programs, and other community events, providing services such as library card registration, library resources and information, giveaways, lawn games, and outdoor furniture. 

Upcoming stops include various locations such as Campau Commons Apartments and Hope Community, with detailed schedules provided for community members.