Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

September 17, 2011

Thomas loves time in bookmobile

GLASGOW — Martha Nell Thomas loves being the bookmobile librarian for the Mary Wood Weldon Memorial Library.

“I think was I was born on wheels,” she said. “I don’t like staying in one spot.”

She also enjoys meeting people along the bookmobile’s routes.

“It’s a lot of fun to go and see them every month and see how they are doing. That’s my favorite part of the job, the people, and being out on the road,” she said.

Thomas has been the bookmobile librarian for two years.

She drives the large blue and white van roughly 300 miles a month along winding roads across Barren County visiting day care centers, elementary schools, country stores, nursing homes and individuals’ homes to bring them books, magazines and even books on disc she thinks they will enjoy.

“You truly learn what your readers like ... and you do your best to be prepared,” she said.

One patron of the bookmobile is a rural route mail carrier who likes books on disc.

“I never see him, but I leave him books,” she said.

Thomas met him one day when she was trying to encourage more people to use the bookmobile. The mailman told her he didn’t read very much.

 “... I asked him if he would like books on disc, because I knew another postman who came into the library and got books on disc,” she said.

The mailman was skeptical at first, but he eventually agreed to try them. They have an agreement. She leaves him new books on disc and he returns the ones he has already listened to.

Thomas works as the bookmobile librarian eight days a month. Her visits are short, averaging 30 minutes to an hour.

On Thursday she stopped at Gethsemane Baptist Child Care and Learning Center on Ky. 63.

Jessica Hill, a teacher at the child care center, said her students look forward to visiting the bookmobile each month.

“They love it,” she said. “She reads them a story every time she comes.”

Thomas also stopped at Temple Hill Elementary on Thursday and took books to Bretta Schalk’s preschool class and to Cheryl Branham’s first grade class. She began reading to Schalk’s class last year.

 “They love listening to the stories,” Schalk said. “The literature she brings is wonderful.”

Stopping at various schools has a dual purpose.

“I’m hoping we are helping them help their children increase their reading skills,” Thomas said. “We also want [the students] to be library users and the bookmobile is hopefully a fun way for them to be introduced to the library.”

Others take advantage of the bookmobile while it’s at Temple Hill. Among them is Zina Greer, a custodian at Temple Hill Elementary, who said, “I don’t have time to go to Glasgow. She comes right here to the school. I really like it. It saves me a lot of time.”

Thomas also stops in various communities, such as Freedom, Hiseville, Cave City and Eighty-Eight where she parks the bookmobile and waits for folks to stop by and peruse the shelves.

When she arrived in the Freedom community on Thursday the Daniels family was waiting for her. They use the bookmobile because of the convenience it affords them.

“We love Martha Nell. She pays attention to what books you like,” said Susan Daniels, who has nine children. “I home school, so I can call her up and say, ‘I need a book on frogs,’ or whatever and she will bring me books on frogs.”

The bookmobile is more high tech than it used to be. It now features wireless Internet so Thomas can use the same circulation system that the main library in Glasgow uses.

There a couple of stops along the winding roads she travels where the wireless Internet doesn’t work as well as she would like for it to, and sometimes that can be a problem, she said.

Thomas is always looking for new ways to encourage people to use the bookmobile or the library.

One of the new things she is doing is leaving paperback books at country stores.

 “It’s to try and reach [people] who might not be coming into the library, but like to read,” she said.

The other is offering movies to bookmobile patrons.

The turn over for bookmobile librarians is rather slow.

“The people who do it, love it,” she said, adding that once someone lands a job as a bookmobile librarian they usually hang on to the job until they retire.

Thomas said she has no plans to retire any time soon.

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