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King County Library System’s Mobile Outreach Program

April 11, 2019 - 12:50 am

The King County Library System works to make materials accessible to more people by taking books to them.  KBCS’s Jim Cantu goes to one of King County Library’s regular mobile service events.


Photo from Christchurch City Libraries

Produced by Jim Cantu and Yuko Kodama

Y K 0:00

91.3 KBCS music and ideas, listener supported radio from Bellevue College.


Jim Cantu 0:05

Some of us remember making trips to the library as a kid. Today the King County Library System works to make materials accessible to more people by taking books to those less mobile, I visited with them on one such trip.


Jim Cantu 0:26

Alison Li, outreach services specialist at the King County Library System or KCLS is unloading carts of books, music, and movies from a red library delivery truck, Li and librarian Kate Morgan deliver material each month to Emerald Heights retirement community. The carts are taken to the senior home’s spacious in-house library, where dozens of people wait eagerly for their requested orders to come in, and to peruse and check out new books. Some at the senior facility need books in large print format. Kate Morgan works with Agnes Peterson on ordering a book that fits her need.


Kate Morgan 1:11

We found the book that you were looking for.And so we don’t have it here with us today. But I can order it for you. And then I think we’ll have it by the next time we come. Do you want to listen to it? Or do you want to read it?


Agnes Peterson 1:25

I’ll read it.


Kate Morgan 1:26



Alison Li 1:27

We bring in our own wifi and we’re able to log into the main system, we’re in real time circulating for them. We can check all their records for items that they’re waiting for on hold. If they have late items, billed items. We have all of that information ready for them.


Jim Cantu 1:45

That’s Alison Li from the mobile outreach team. She’s been delivering books for 16 years.


Alison Li 1:51

The traveling library Center, which is our portion of mobile services has been in existence for over 30 years and we serve all over King County in a variety of senior housing situations, retirement communities assisted living, we visit skilled nursing facilities and in the skilled nursing we do room to room service for those folks far less mobile. We also have another portion of our service where we do home delivery service to individuals to group homes, adult family homes, and that’s often where we see the folks who have the least amount of mobility.


Jim Cantu 2:36

Lee’s visits to senior facilities and assisted living centers aren’t the only ways the King County Library System makes its books accessible to the 1.4 million people it serves KCLS executive director Lisa Rosenblum manages 50 brick and mortar libraries, and all the services for the currently over 650,000 active cardholders.


Lisa Rosenblum 3:01

A lot of times parents work all day and the kids don’t have access to the library. During the day. And evenings and weekends, these parents are really busy. So we actually bring books to children in daycare centers, and we allow them to check them out. We have books on CD and we also have streaming audio books. We have movies, you can stream. You don’t even have to come into our library and check them out. King County is very diverse and people speak many languages here. So we also have books and audio in different languages for people, our streaming services will never replace coming into a library. People love that connection of coming in and talking with other people. We have group meeting rooms they’re for free, so the physical library will never go away. But we just have expanded it to any way you want to use your library you pretty much can use it. If you never want to come in but download books we’lllet you do that. If you want to come in and take your kids to story times you can do that and we’ll bring the library to you too.


Jim Cantu 4:06

Back at the Emerald Heights Retirement Living Center in Redmond, Washington. The KCLS crew has helped this community connect to another month’s worth of information and entertainment with KBCS. This is Jim Cantu special thanks to Yuko Kodama for editing this story.