A Bookmobile for Bozeman

photos by Jenny Barth

Bozeman Library Foundation started fundraising for a bookmobile with “A Moveable Feast”, a dinner event inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s life and memoir in late February. Paula Beswick, Bozeman Library Foundation Director, stated, “When Aleworks contacted us and wanted to do something we jumped on it.” Montana Ale Works planned a Caribbean themed feast in homage to Hemingway’s time spent in the Bahamas. Outlaw Brewing and Bozeman Brewing provided beer and Bozeman Spirits Distillery created a specialty cocktail. Thanks to these businesses, all proceeds from the event directly benefited the bookmobile fund. Attendees had the opportunity to purchase signed library editions of Ernest Hemingway’s novels, recently published by his son Patrick and nephew Sean Hemingway, with all the proceeds benefitting the bookmobile project.

”The whole goal is to get outside of the library walls,” says Paula. She hopes to start design plans for the bookmobile by summer and “A Moveable Feast” surely was a significant boost for that effort. Prior to the event, the foundation had raised close to $100,000 with the goal of raising $600,000. These funds could be applied to purchase of a backup bookmobile, books, and technology. Raising enough money to increase the endowment could cover insurance, maintenance, and storage of the bookmobile(s) so the library could gift the bookmobile(s) to the City of Bozeman who would provide staff for events and services.

Book lending, storytime, puppets, crafts, internet connection, technology, computer training, or retail services (in coordination with One Book One Bozeman) are a few proposed functions the bookmobile could provide. The goal of creating a book mobile is serving all groups of underserved patrons in the area, whether income, work hours, or mobility affect their ability to visit the Bozeman Public Library at its Main Street location.

They have enlisted professors at MSU to discover library patrons of the Bozeman High School district who: have cards and use them, have cards and don’t use them, don’t have cards, and their age groups. Without accessing any private information they are able to learn where they can best reach people of varied ages and interests. This will help determine routes and program choices.

Bozeman Library’s mission is to provide the community with free, open and equal access to general information on a broad array of topics. The bookmobile would provide a new access point for residents and visitors to the Bozeman area. New possibilities include cooperation with local libraries and the food bank or visits to the Farmer’s Market or assisted living.
If you are looking forward to participating in the success of this project, look for announcements of another event centered around Masha Hamilton. She authored “The Camel Bookmobile,” the story of bookmobiles on camel back in Africa. According to her website, she traveled with the book toting camels in Northeastern Kenya, experiencing the endeavor firsthand. She is an advocate for women’s literacy and arrangements are being made for her future visit to Bozeman in cooperation with the Bozeman Public Library. Her experience with the hunger for learning in Africa can inform efforts here to cook up a literary lunch wagon in the Bozeman area. Dates have not been set at this time, for more information call (406) 582-2425 or email programs@bozemanlibraryfoundation.org and check the events calendar in Bozeman Magazine or www.bozemanmagazine.com