Harford County Public Library officials have rolled out their latest effort to reach children sometimes left on the sidelines when it comes to library use, launching a $135,000 vehicle dubbed "Rolling Reader" and packed with computers, Internet connections and more than 3,000 books.
The customized, 25-foot bookmobile will make regular tours of after-school programs, mainly along Harford County's Route 40 corridor, with a particular aim of attracting elementary and middle school children from low-income families who might not be in the habit of using the public library.
"It really is not a traditional bookmobile - traditional bookmobiles stop at neighborhoods, and they're like traveling libraries," said Audra Caplan, association director of the county library system. "What we're trying to do with Rolling Reader is instill a love of reading in children who would not be regular library users."
The vehicle, partially funded through a state grant, is equipped with two computer stations that will give users access to the library's catalog, databases and the Internet. The book collection includes reference material and books for reading for pleasure. And the operation will be staffed by a librarian and a circulation clerk.
Library officials say the Rolling Reader will hit the road in January, traveling around the county Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Among the after-school programs expected to receive visits are Edgewood PAL Center, Boys and Girls Clubs in Aberdeen, Havre de Grace and Edgewood and YMCA programs at William Paca/Old Post, Riverside, North Bend and Churchville elementary schools.
Wednesday's unveiling of the new vehicle featured a program with children from the county's Boys and Girls Clubs and from Inner City Outreach, an organization that provides mentors to young people through local churches and community centers.