By Heleigh Bostwick
Starting June 18, residents throughout Williston and St. George will hear the familiar tune “Reveille” as Dottie the Bookmobile rolls into their neighborhoods—Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings—courtesy of the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library.
“Dottie, short for Dorothy, is named after the library’s founder, Dorothy Alling,” said Jill Coffrin, youth librarian. Dottie’s book inventory is separate from the library, she said, and serves mainly infants through teens. This summer, there will be a small selection of books for adults as well.
“We try to focus on fun summer reads, such as popular series books, nonfiction with lots of pictures for browsing, graphic novels and world record and superhero books,” said Coffrin, who’s been Dottie’s driver since 2000 and is excited to have Outreach Librarian Kathy DeLuca join her as a second driver.
Although the original bookmobile dates back to the late 1990s, the current “Dottie” bookmobile bus was purchased in 2007. A local artist painted the mural, which even includes a therapy dog, Frosty.
“Around 200 families use the bookmobile each summer,” said Coffrin. Kerry Batres and her two boys, ages 7 and 10, are one of them.
“We’ve used the bookmobile ever since we moved to Pleasant Acres seven years ago,” said Batres. “It’s part of our summer schedule and a real neighborhood affair. There are probably 10 kids that race out there when they hear the horn.”
The bookmobile has regular routes and the library hands out bookmarks with Dottie’s destinations. The information is also posted on the library’s website. Coffrin said they try to get to neighborhoods that are farther away from the library.
“Stops are open to the community,” she said. “You don’t have to live in that neighborhood to use the bookmobile.”
Don Dempsey lives in the Indian Ridge neighborhood with his wife, Betsey, and their 12- and 14-year- old kids. “The bookmobile stops about 50 yards from the house, usually around 5 or 6 p.m.,” he said. “We do get over to the library, but there’s something neat about the bookmobile. We’ve certainly made use of it. Our kids were always able to find something they wanted to read,” she said.
Dottie, one of several bookmobiles in the area, is something of a local celebrity, taking part in the Williston Fourth of July parade every year.
“Dottie was even in the Kids’ Day parade at the Champlain Valley Fair one year, and won a blue ribbon!” said Coffrin.
“It’s a mini library on wheels,” said Coffrin. “Everybody loves the novelty of the bookmobile, especially the musical horn.”
Batres agrees. “The best part is hearing the horn blow,” she said. “It’s exactly like the ice cream truck.” The bookmobile program runs through Aug. 29.