When traveling with the Digital Bookmobile, I enjoy learning about the cities we drive into. I’m curious if the city is rich with history or up and coming. Does it feel like it’s 2,000 miles away or does it look like many others? There is so much history around North America that it can be missed if you don’t stop and look around. Two Digital Bookmobile events recently stood out to me in the way their city’s history reflects in their libraries.
Los Alamos, NM
The driving force behind the city of Los Alamos is its Laboratory. The Los Alamos National Laboratory was established in 1943 to design and build an atomic bomb. This is huge! How did I not know this was in New Mexico? After 20 months of engineering, the world’s first atomic bomb was detonated in 1945, 200 miles south of Los Alamos. Today, people at the Laboratory work on advanced technologies to provide the best scientific and engineering solutions to the nation’s most crucial security challenges. More information on Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Last year, the Laboratory employed 11,083 people. (No wonder my hotel clerk thought I was in town for the Laboratory.) Forty-three percent of the workforce lives in Los Alamos County, while the rest live in surrounding communities. So it wasn’t shocking to hear that several patrons we met during our Digital Bookmobile event worked for the Laboratory.
How does this effect the library system? In 2016, the Lab paid $81,948,928 in Gross Receipts taxes (GRT). GRT is New Mexico’s version of a sales tax. A portion of GRT is retained by the state with the remainder being distributed to individual counties/municipalities. These counties/municipalities then distribute that money to programs like the library. The library receives a portion of that GRT as revenue, but that number is totally dependent on the success of the Lab that year.
Visiting both White Rock and Mesa Public Library in Los Alamos was great. With the help of Electronic Services Manager Gwen Kalavaza (right) and additional library staff, we promoted the library’s collection of eBooks and audiobooks to over 100 patrons. I believe this city will continue to flourish through evolving technology and services, both in the library and the Lab.
“Houston, we have a problem.” This famous quote has been heard around the world, but I almost forgot about this piece of history when the Digital Bookmobile stopped in Houston this year. The Bookmobile was all set up and visitors were hopping on and off at Harris County Public Library – Freeman Branch. It wasn’t until I stepped inside the building that the lightbulb in my head lit up.
One look at the adorable bathroom signs and I remembered where I was… Houston, Space City. It was hard to fathom that 10 minutes down the road from the library was NASA Mission Control Center. The very building the Apollo 13 crew reported a problem to on April 14, 1970. “This city is amazing!” I thought.
All around the city my colleague Diana and I began to see tributes to space exploration. In playgrounds, children’s programs, even elevator door artwork. It didn’t take long to see how proud the city is of their accomplishments in science and space exploration.
In 2017, Harris County Public Library system (HCPL) was one of 58 members worldwide to join the OverDrive Million Checkout Club. This represents the library’s circulation of eBooks and audiobooks alone which is a great accomplishment. Harris County, which encompasses Houston, Texas, is “committed to providing excellent customer service, strong collections, and cutting edge information technology for the 21st Century.” I believe it’s safe to say that both HCPL and the city of Houston strive for excellence in whatever they do.
The next time you find yourself traveling for work, pleasure, or a spontaneous trip to Las Vegas, take a moment to look around and see what makes that city unique. You might just be surprised by what you find.
For more information on the Digital Bookmobile powered by OverDrive, please visit www.digitalbookmobile.com.