We are about to enter an exciting new era for our Mobile Library. Two mobile library vans will service the community, from Monday 3 December 2012. Rotary New Zealand sought and received funding for the vans, which help fill the gaps left in library services after the earthquakes forced the closure of several libraries. One van is funded by Rotary International, and the other van is funded through a partnership with Rotary International and the Cotton On Foundation.
Library assistant David Welch is about to celebrate a milestone too – he has been a Mobile Library driver since 23 November 1993. His last day on the big bus, before the move to vans, will be on 22 November.
Things have changed a lot since then. Community libraries have opened in areas previously only serviced by the buses (Linwood, Parklands, Upper Riccarton). Back in the 90s, the Mobile Library was not online, and couldn’t retrieve borrower files, and they were owners of the original brick style cellphones to communicate with libraries. With less direct connection to the library system David says the Mobile “often felt quite isolated, like the last mission station up the Amazon” – a great bastion of culture scooting round the streets.
David reckons three quarters of the customers are regulars. The Mobile Library staff get to know their customers well, and can watch out for books and authors they like. What qualities should Mobile Library staff have? The ability to “think on their feet” and “keep familiar with the stock”.
He has lots of stories from the Christchurch streets. Once he was taking his tea break on the park bench on the corner of Waltham Road and Hastings Street when five police cars screamed up and pointed pistols at a car. They were catching someone who had shot a person in a drug deal gone wrong. A policemen retrieved a pistol off the front seat of the arrested man’s car.
David will miss the big bus: “There is no place in the world feels more comfortable”. He has driven a heavy vehicle almost every week since 1977.
- Find out more about the history of Christchurch City Libraries’ Mobile Library.
- Here are some photos from the various mobile incarnations over the years.