Appeared In the News-Leader 9-15-2010
By Katy Pattison
For a library district like Christian County’s, where income allows only one official library branch to serve a county of more than 77,000 people, outreach services are vital. This is where library Courier Scott Villareal, who has been with the Christian County Library since 2001, comes in. He runs the “Books to Go” program. The most basic “Books to Go” service is pick-up and drop-off of materials at our Community Partner locations: the Nixa Community Center, J & M Foods in Sparta, and the Clever Public Library. County residents may place books on hold and choose a pick-up site over the phone or through the online catalog at http://coolcat.org/search~S4. A staff member delivers the materials, and notifies patrons that their items are ready for pick up. Users show their library card at the pick-up site and sign for their materials. Later, patrons may return materials to a drop box outside each site.
“Books to Go” is more than just pick-up and drop-off at Community Partner locations, though. Scott also provides library materials to county schools, life enhancement centers, senior apartments and nursing homes each week. He carries a rotating collection in the library’s delivery van, just like a bookmobile. When a Christian County Library tax increase failed in 1997, the ailing 1974 bookmobile was retired and replaced by a delivery van. Library staff still affectionately refer to the van as “the bookmobile.” Traditional bookmobiles today cost over $150,000 and are very expensive to maintain and operate.
This year, Scott is working with four area schools to increase “Books to Go” usage. Participating schools are Sparta High School, and Matthews, Inman, and Thomas Elementary schools in Nixa. Teachers request materials. The library delivers to them at the monthly “Books to Go” school stops. Teachers can essentially create a small, temporary classroom library using Christian County Library materials. This is particularly helpful when a class is studying a specific subject, historical event, or country. At the end of the school year, the teacher borrowing the most books will receive a new book for each student in that classroom. View the entire “Books to Go” schedule at http://christiancounty.lib.mo.us/bookmobile/calendar.html.