CURWENSVILLE — The Clearfield County Public Library launched its newest literacy initiative over the weekend.

Director Kayla Clark reported the library’s mobile service’s unit, a 2018 Ford Transit Van, made an inaugural appearance Saturday at a strawberry festival at Mint Condition, Grampian. The van’s interior is custom-built to provide space needed for the equipment used to provide a pop-up library experience. Experiences are able to be customized depending on the ages and preferences of those attending an event.

Clark said the unit provided an opportunity for those attending the festival at Grampian to borrow books or register for a library card. Younger visitors were also invited to make crafts and try out some of the library’s new science, technology, engineering and mathematics toys. “Those were a big hit,” Clark said.

She said the visit was a great opportunity to test what library staff has developed as a sample plan for the unit’s use with stops at festivals, nursing homes, local churches and other events.

The mobile services unit is taking the place of the library’s previous outreach vehicle, the Bookmobile. The Bookmobile had to be sidelined several years ago because it had numerous mechanical problems. Those issues were becoming too costly to continue repairing and the vehicle was becoming too antiquated to find parts.

The new van requires less maintenance and will be less costly to insure and operate. The library is currently conducting a search to find an employee who will be dedicated to driving the van and setting up its stops.

Clark said any of the van’s stops can be modified in the choice of books that are placed in the four rolling carts the van transports and in any activities staff provides during the stop.

“We can load those carts for whatever needs there are during that trip,” she explained.

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Clark said the van will also be used in the coming weeks during joint reading festival with the Curwensville, DuBois and Clearfield public libraries. The Clearfield County Library Bash is scheduled is scheduled for Wednesday, June 19 at 2 p.m. at Rockton Park. Everyone is welcome, Clark said.

“This is a collaborative effort to show how the libraries can work together,” she said.

It will also be one of the units participating in the Grampian-Penn-Bloom Festival and Homecoming parade on June 29.

Clark said other events or stops will be considered once a permanent employee is hired. She said anyone who would like information about the mobile services unit or wants to inquire about scheduling the mobile service unit for an appearance can call her at 236-0589.

The van’s purchase was funded through a drive that kicked off in May 2018 and wrapped up in February of this year with more than $110,000 contributed by local businesses, organizations and county residents who support reading and literacy activities.

For more than 75 years, the library has been providing mobile library services throughout Clearfield County. The county’s first bookmobiles supplied local public schools. In 1965, a federal bill to improve library service to rural areas, allowed the Clearfield County Public Library to buy a walk-in bookmobile designed to provide reading and literacy-building materials that was family-oriented accommodating both children and adults and encouraging life-long learning. Bookmobiles were purchased in 1976, 1991 and the latest in 2003.

Clearfield County Public Library covers approximately 46,000 county residents who are not served by the Shaw Public Library, the Curwensville Branch Library or the DuBois Public Library.