Susie Flores spends her days driving a bus filled with books and other educational materials. She takes the Alamance County Mobile Library around the local community, delivering materials and resources to people who need them. 

“We have a large print selection. We have some DVDs and playaways. If the patron wants to get a book that we don't have, we can request it, we can bring it but we also have our own collection of books, which are brand new materials basically.  We also have internet access and we are working on getting some printers as well,” Flores said. 

As the manager of Alamance County Mobile Library, Flores works to deliver literary and some electronic needs to those who need it around the community. The mobile library travels around the county, providing the same services as the physical branches. Flores works closely with  director of the Alamance County Public Library system, Susana Goldman, to make sure that the library makes it to children around the county. 

“We are not tied down by one location,” Goldman said. “The idea is to break the concept of a traditional library and make it accessible anywhere.”

The first mobile library in Alamance County started in the 1940s and lasted until the 1980s. The last vehicle in the early ‘80s wasn’t replaced until it was brought back in 2021. The current mobile library was custom built in July and has been on the road since October of 2021. Within the first three weeks, Goldman said that they saw over 600 people on the vehicle. And now with the year ahead of us, the mobile library hopes to reach more people. 

The vehicle travels to various locations such as charter schools, retirement facilities, churches, daycares, parks and far away or lower class neighborhoods. 

“We have the adaptability to take all the services that we can provide in a library to our community out where they are while recognizing that people have bigger needs, allowing them to be able to come to us all the time,” Goldman said. 

Goldman said that having a vehicle that can travel has been a real benefit to the community with more requests coming in for various locations to be included around the county. The library on wheels has visited festivals, fairs, special requested events and other areas. 

“People still need access to information and we are able to help them with that,” Flores said. “I think it definitely meets a real need, and the mobile library makes that even more accessible.” 

The mobile library is on a three-week rotation with two or three stops a day, four days a week. There are around 28 to 30 stops in the three week period alone. The three week rotation period is how long a patron can keep a book they checked out from the library.

Resources are the same as inside the Alamance County Public Library, such as checking out books and requesting items. Anyone who lives or works in Alamance County, or lives in a county that is directly touching Alamance County, is eligible to obtain a library card — including college students. 

In addition to the mobile library, the mobile cafe also plays a major role in the county, according to Goldman. The mobile cafe is a smaller vehicle that provides internet access for patrons as well as the same print and nonprint materials. 

“During the summer, people would be able to pull chairs out and use the internet. I’ve noticed some of those neighborhoods and parks are in the places that people are really needing the second vehicle,” Goldman said. 

Though the mobile library vehicle was delayed for over a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Goldman said it’s now an easy alternative to get ahold of library resources faster and in a much safer way. 

“We do see that it'll continue to expand what we can do in the future, even if variants remain for the foreseeable future. I think the mobile libraries will still be very popular,” Goldman said. 

The mobile library is used by patrons of all ages, however, they often get positive feedback from children — especially in lower income housing locations. 

“Being able to get out there into the community so people have access to these free things for whatever they need them for, that’s what it is all about,” Goldman said. 

Flores said even in locations with fewer patrons, the mobile library making an appearance is still important and rewarding. 

“It's exciting to be able to see them check out books and then they know that I'm going to be back in a few weeks,” Flores said. “Getting them interested in reading and in educating themselves and learning, you know, all those good things.”