Cutline: Edmonton Public Library manager of digital literacy initiatives, Leanne Drury Melsness, stands beside one of the libraries existing shipping vehicles. If fundraising goes well they hope to have four new digital literacy vans on the streets next year.

As Edmonton’s Library system sets up to celebrate 100 years of operation they plan to take to the streets next year with four new libraries on wheels.

The proposal to create the new digital literacy vans is contained within the City of Edmonton’s budget, but the library plans to fundraise to get them on the streets.

Leanne Drury Melsness, manager of the library’s digital literacy initiatives, said the vans would be much more than bookmobiles, but would actual aim to bring all of what the library has to offer to the community.

“They would have access to some of EPLs great content and e-content,” she said. “Picture, like a pop-up Internet café, or a recording studio or a gaming kit.”

In addition the library hopes to be able to issue library cards from the vans and would aim to have them at local events and festivals.

“The types of places we could travel to would be events, and parks, child-care facilties and hospitals there are many different institutions,” she said.

The system plans to open two new libraries in 2013, but Drury-Melsness said there are still areas that are underserved, as well as people who have difficulty getting to libraries.

“We are helping people build their capacity in those areas,” she said. “Transportation can be a big barrier for people to come to the physical branch.”

The library is also planning to fundraise next year for an early literacy programming focusing on young children. No date has been set for when the literacy vans will roll out, because it is dependent on fundraising.

Books on wheels

  • The Edmonton Public Library system was one of the first jurisdictions to have a bookmobile, with a converted trolley car that hit the streets in 1941.
  • The cost of the new program is estimated at $414,000 a year, which would provide for four vans and staff to go with them.
  • The library is asking cit council for an additional $100,000 to fund a celebration of its centennial

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