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PERRY COUNTY - When most people think of a library's bookmobile, they don't see anything glamorous. But Tell City-Perry County bookmobile librarians Brandi Sanders and Debbie Feix love their bookmobile and they love their jobs.
"It's an awesome job," Sanders said. "I'm not giving it up. It's not an easy job, but it's an easy-going job."
During National Bookmobile Day Wednesday, held during the middle of National Library Week, libraries across the nation will celebrate and recognize the role of their traveling libraries, the services they provide to patrons and their histories. Bookmobiles in various forms have been used by libraries in the United States for more than 100 years as a way to offer books to those who can't get to the library. These mobile libraries are not just found in rural areas - Tell City-Perry County's bookmobile can be found at Tell City, Cannelton and Perry Central schools, day cares and nursing homes throughout the county.
And since the economic downtown, use of the bookmobile has surged, the two librarians noted, especially in areas such as Apalona, Branchville, Adyeville and St. Croix.
"We hit almost every corner of Perry County," Sanders said. "Out of the four-week schedule, we spend two in the county and the other two in the schools."
The county's current bookmobile is the third the library has had and has been in service since 1994. The first book bookmobile hit the road in 1964 and ran for 20 years until it was replaced by "an orange dinosaur," Sanders said. She and Feix joke that the current vehicle, with its white exterior and red lines "kind of looks like a Red Cross bus."
When the bookmobile first started running, Sanders said, its routes not only covered Perry County, but many stops in Spencer County as well. During the four-week schedule, the bookmobile would travel to the rural areas of Perry County and then on to Spencer County, making stops at the elementary schools spread out through the county as well.
Now, the bookmobile stays in Perry County and has added city stops to its schedule.
It might not appear to hold much, but the inside of the bookmobile is packed with books. Step up the black metal stairs and inside there are shelves, boxes, crates and rolling carts overflowing with books. And the bus contains more than just books. Sanders and Feix also stock their library with audio books, DVDs, magazines, reference books and a small selection of genealogy books that are available for loan.
"We could have a bookmobile three times this size and it would still be packed to the brim," Sanders said.
According to the librarians, the bookmobile could house anywhere from 6,000 to 8,000 books. And that's not all. Both Sanders and Feix say that between the bookmobile and their office at the library, the collection could very easily be around 32,000. And the two say the number keeps growing.
The bookmobile runs on two different four-week schedules throughout the year. The winter schedule runs from the end of August to the end of May, while the summer schedule runs during the months when school is out of session, June through August.
The summer schedule also has various different spots to accommodate school children who are on vacation.
Such a large selection and diverse schedule help the bookmobile, especially since the main point of the bus is getting books to people who can't get to the library, Sanders explained.
"And a lot of times, we will see people at multiple stops (during the schedule) because they can get books faster on the bookmobile than having to go all the way to town," Feix added.
The personal setting of the bookmobile is also something that Sanders and Feix enjoy. The ladies explained the atmosphere created by the small confines of the vehicle helps them build relationships with their patrons, some who can't get to the main library in town often and some who have never been on a bookmobile before.
Feix talked of one couple coming into the area from Indianapolis, who stopped when they saw the bookmobile parked near Magnet because they have never been in one before.
"They couldn't believe how much we had in this bus," she said.
"If we had see-through walls where people could see what we have, we would have a lot more participation," Sanders added.
The two women are excited about the first-ever National Bookmobile Day and the chance to let people know about their traveling library and show them what benefits they offer. They have ordered stickers and pencils for the children and bookmarks for everyone to get the word out about the day.
The Tell City-Perry County Bookmobile will celebrate National Bookmobile Day at Tell City Junior High School from 10:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Wednesday.