“Hello and welcome to the Digital Bookmobile!” This is the way I greet so many of our patrons who visit us on the truck. I want to use this greeting to say “hello and welcome” to the 2019 tour blog. Many of you are familiar with Lauren’s writing and her work on the truck, but with the close of the 2018 tour we said goodbye to Lauren on the road. Lauren is still part of the OverDrive team, but she now works with our training department.
So who am I? I’ve referred to myself a lot, but I haven’t done any introductions. I’m Joe Skelley, and I work behind the scenes for the Digital Bookmobile; I plan the route and stops, work on logistics, come up with swag ideas…. I’m the Bookmobile guy. I’ve been with the company for the last three tours, but this is my first blog post. I’ll be posting (for right now) about every other month, along with our new Bookmobile Brand Ambassador Marissa (her introduction to come).
I’ve had the pleasure to tour with the bookmobile since February this year, while Marissa gets her “road legs.” So much has happened between the start of the tour and now… I’m in my third state of the tour— of the US, not state of mind. We’ve hosted 17 events, been to 15 cities, and we’ve driven over 1,400 miles so far. We’ve celebrated our 1,000th event, gone to a book festival, and so much more. What is that “so much more” then?
February makes up 5 of those 17 events. One of the most notable parts was visiting the Ak-Chin Indian Community Library. This Native American community library had a small, but mighty, collection and working an event like this really helps remind us why libraries are so important. Libraries are a huge part of the communities— they provide resources (like Libby) to the people.
One of the other crazy parts of February was being around for SNOW in Las Vegas! For the first time in 10 years, the Las Vegas-Clark County schools shut down. Being from Cleveland, the amount of snow that fell was laughable, but it was truly amazing to see how excited people were to experience the “phenomenon.”
March brought us to the Tucson Festival of Books. I traveled with friend, co-worker, and Professional Book Nerds podcast host Adam. We got to introduce over 3,000 people to Libby on the bookmobile while also meeting authors, presenters, and just lots of fun people who love books and reading.
People come from all over the US and Canada to visit the book festival. We got to introduce more than just the residents of Pima County to Libby; we met people from Alberta, Michigan, Wisconsin, and so many other states. Adam, Ira (our driver) and I passed out so much swag— buttons, phone grips, bookmobile pens… we even had a Snapchat Geofilter. It was quite the weekend!
We also got to stay at the Arizona Inn, which was such a beautiful and historic place. The inn was built in the 1930s by Isabella Greenway (Arizona’s first female Congressional representative), who created a quiet and peaceful escape for many of Hollywood’s elite (Katherine Hepburn and Frank Sinatra to name a couple).
I got a day off in Tucson where I got to hang out with one of my best friends and her husband! We even got tattoos… eek! Sorry mom! Mine is Calcifer in a frying pan from Diana Wynne Jones’ book, Howl’s Moving Castle.
I visited South by Southwest in Austin with my coworker before we visited Austin Public Library and Stiles Middle School. I was also able to visit family while in Austin, and it was so great to get to catch up with them, especially with their first lil reader on the way!
I’ve now made my way through the Stockyards and rodeos of Fort Worth, to the Gopher-Warrior stadium of Grand Prairie. Arlington Public Library tried out our Espressos and Ebooks outreach kit, to great success! I had so much fun talking to patrons over lattes and hot chocolate after they walked through the bookmobile.
This week ends my long stretch on the road, and I’m excited to be getting back home. I love the bookmobile and travel has been so much fun, but I’ve definitely been feeling the homesickness. I have a few well-trained staff members who can run the bookmobile in my place until Marissa’s training is complete, so I’m going to hand the reins over to them for the short interim. I’m really looking forward to keeping up with y’all on the blog! Talk to y’all soon!