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Norman Books on the Bus and Other Outreach

Norman Public Library - Pioneer Library System

Innovation Leader: Charlotte Gordon, Children's Outreach Coordinator, Norman Public Library - Pioneer Library System, cgordon@pls.lib.ok.us

Problem Statement

The city of Norman is 177 square miles with over 100,000 customers who are served by one central library. Development within the city has expanded the need for library services to the east and west of the city edges as well as increased the use of library services and materials in the city center. This central library shares parking lots with the City government complex which includes City Hall and a police station. Users noted that the lack of parking was a deterrent to using the library and attending programs. Creative outreach opportunities were explored and implemented.

Innovation

The first outreach effort began in 2008 at the Sooner Fashion Mall on the west side of town. Children’s staff presents a weekly story-time that is offered in front of Sears, where the average attendance is 45-80. Pioneer has made books available at the mall for checkout through book lockers, an effort that was duplicated B &B Country Store on the east side.

The following year, Norman’s bus system, CART (Cleveland Area Rapid Transit), was beginning a public awareness campaign designed to increase ridership. The library is a popular stop, so partnering seemed a natural relationship. This partnership has manifested into Books on the Bus, a once-a-month story-time presented on the Main Street bus route. Riders are turned into active participants with songs, stories and action that even include the YMCA song as the local Y is passed on the route!

Phase II has begun with offering books on the bus for passengers. Children’s, teens and adult titles will be stored on the bus. They can be read and returned to the bus with no fees but are branded with the CART and Library logo. Phase III plans include offering a set of bus passes available for purchase at the library. Outside of the University, this would be the ONLY place in Norman with extended hours to purchase passes.

Progress

The Sooner Mall Storytimes and Book Boxes have been well attended and utilized. Business in surrounding stores is up and can be attributed to the large crowds that now gather every week to listen to the stories and to check out books. Since beginning Books on the Bus, ridership has doubled on the weekend main routes and the sign-ups are always full for this program. An entirely new audience of regular library users has been introduced to the benefits of using public transportation, while the established ridership all over town now has been exposed to the great programs and services the library has to offer!