Time-Traveling Librarians from Outer Spa... from Texas

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20 Responses to “Time-Traveling Librarians from Outer Spa... from Texas”

  1. Deidzoeb says:

    Don’t spread the secret too widely, but there’s a surprising number of progressives hiding out in Houston, not just in Austin.

    I picture the bookmobile driving slowly through neighborhoods like an ice cream truck. What tune should the bookmobile play to attract readers? Paperback writer? Book of Love?

    • Felton / Moderator says:

      Every Day I Write the Book?

    • Derek Attig says:

       Ooh. I vote for Book of Love!

    • pKp says:

      Definitely Paperback Writer.

    • ocker3 says:

       With interludes from Novel Writing by Monty Python

    • Culturedropout says:

      Maybe they should just use a bell like the ice cream truck.  Probably the only way they’re going to get most people off their asses for a book.  Also, I really worry that something so localized and with such a necessarily small selection is going to have trouble competing with downloadable “e-books” from physical libraries.  Although come to think of it, using “e-book” and “physical library” in the same sentence doesn’t make much more sense.  For inducing warm-fuzzies in this particular reader, you can’t beat ink-and-paper books.  But since I’m trying not to accumulate more “stuff”, as well as for the sheer convenience of it, I’ve bought or borrowed perhaps 50 or 60 e-books in the last 12 months, vs. buying maybe 6 or 7 paper books and borrowing… none.  Maybe I just need to glue my Nook inside a big thick hardback book.  If nothing else there would be room for enough batteries to keep it running for a year at a time.  Dammit; now I want to go back and read “Diamond Age” again…

      • Deidzoeb says:

        I don’t think there would be a lot of competition between bookmobiles and library e-books, or at least, users won’t be forced to choose between the two. The kind of people who go to their local library regularly or download library ebooks from home might not care about this bookmobile with its smaller selection. I assume the bookmobile is aimed at people who have trouble getting to their nearest library, or don’t think much about their library. Almost a convenience service like ice cream trucks. Kids might be within walking distance of a place that sells ice cream, and it would probably be cheaper at the store, maybe a larger selection, but the ice cream truck rolls by and reminds you that you might be in the mood for it right now. They probably charge a little more and still manage to remain profitable.

        On the other hand, ice cream trucks probably don’t take orders for what to bring next week, but a bookmobile working with/for a local library could take requests from patrons and deliver the items later, essentially offering a much larger selection than what fits on the truck.

        • Hi everyone.  Chris from the BPTL here.  First, I’d like to thank you all, particularly Derek and everyone affiliated with Library Boing Boing, for having such a positive response to our project.  In the last two days we’ve gotten about as many page views on our site as we previously had ever.  And we’ve raised $170 for our IndieGoGo campaign in the past day.  So thank you for that.

          The above two comments by Culturedropout and Deldzoeb have given me a lot to respond to, and I’d like to take the opportunity here to do so.

          First, Deldzoeb is right that we aren’t trying to compete with the eBook market, or with anyone really.  There was a certain Redditor that suffered this same confusion. We believe it is our role to complement other establishments (libraries, museums, coffee shops, food & mobile trucks) and cultures (food & fashion culture, art culture, festival culture).

          There also seems to be some confusion that our bookmobile only lends books, and that is precisely why I prefer to call it a traveling library and not a bookmobile.  Inferring that we’re just going to be roaming the streets (like an ice cream truck??) with a modest collection of books  misses the point of our project and the point of libraries in general.  I will refer you to our about page and to the link to the inventory on our catalog page.  Our LibraryThing page is misleading because right now it consists mostly of books, but that’s only because all of those books were already in LibraryThing’s database.  Our DVDs and VHSes and CDs and vinyl are going to take a bit more effort on our part.  

          Thirdly, and let’s go ahead and make it lastly, I’m not sure I follow Deldzoeb’s ice cream analogy.  Are you saying that it would be more costly for someone to stumble upon our traveling library than to drive to a bookstore, or a library?  Our venture is something of a hybrid between a used bookstore and a library, so I feel I must respond to both. In the bookstore case, that claim is absolutely false, even in the case of somewhere like Half-Price books.  In the case of libraries, it really depends on how responsible you are.  Our business plan is somewhat different than that of a public library.  Most public libraries will give you a card for free and wait to benefit off of your negligence (or just your tax dollars). We’re a little more up front about costs (annual membership plans), and we don’t have late fees.  You can return what you’ve borrowed anytime you want, or not at all.  If you don’t return it, you’ve already paid for it, but at most $5.

          Thanks for your time.  I hope this cleared some things up.  And don’t mess with (Houston, or Austin,) Texas.

          • Deidzoeb says:

            Hi Chris. I hadn’t clicked through the link to read exactly what you were doing. I was just using the ice cream truck analogy to show some positives about what could be done with a bookmobile — the convenience, the outreach aspect if it was tied to a local library system. I didn’t mean to imply that it would be more costly for someone to stumble upon your traveling library than to drive to a bookstore, or a library. I also didn’t mean to assume that your business model was the same as an ice cream truck. Sorry for the confusion.

            I was trying to pre-emptively cut-off the argument that traveling libraries are unnecessary or add no value to a standard brick & mortar library. Ice cream trucks presumably mark up their goods because of the convenience of their service (just like convenience stores do), and we can see there’s a market for them based on the fact that they remain in business. I assume there’s a similar audience of readers who would appreciate the convenience of traveling libraries, even if they already patronize their local brick & mortar library.

            Good luck to you!

  2. Don Langosta says:

    Ah, back from the days before Texas outlawed books.

    • That’s a damn dirty lie!

      Books are still perfectly legal in Texas. It’s only illegal to read them.

      • creesto says:

         Wrong again! The only books in Tejas that one is allowed to read are those that have been appropriately edited and amended by the School Book Committee. Gotta watch out for Commie agendas from Anti-muricans

  3. creesto says:

    Oh my but do I want that truck!!

  4. 50yearguarantee says:

    They found a skeleton in the driver’s seat with a note that read, “All hope is lost… 57 years and still waiting for my first customer… what’ll happen to all… these……… bibles?”

  5. Ramone says:

    Very cool! The link to their site seems to be broken though. 

  6. Derek Attig says:

    The link to Supreme Librarians in Metaspace (which is an amazing comic produced by the Emporia State University School of Library and Information Management) is also broken. You can follow it here: http://bookmobility.org/post/25385887223/slim 

  7. ocker3 says:

    I’ve only used bookmobiles once or twice, but I’ve been lucky to have a parent who would happily fit in a trip to the local library if at all possible, or she’d at least drop me at the train station so I could go myself or with my brothers. 

  8. detailmatters says:

    This is the stuff the world needs. It’d be amazing to get these time travelers to join the @sxswLAM gang in Austin this year to rile up the internet crowds with mobile library wonders. Let’s connect on http://www.sxswlam.info for more fun possibilities to explore.

  9. georgia says:

    Congrats from a fellow librarian :) Hope it goes well

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