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Why is there a Digital Bookmobile at the Library?

On the road, we frequently see head scratches and hear, “Why is there a bookmobile at the library when they are supposed to serve readers who can’t access the library?”

Bookmobiles have been around since the 19th century with the goal of bringing literacy to the masses. Traditionally, bookmobiles serve to bring books to readers who cannot access the library because of distance or ability. Though, it’s not limited to that. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “Bookmobiles have been used for servicing school districts, housing visual aids, and transporting educational exhibits.”

Digital Bookmobile 2009 (First Generation)

The Digital Bookmobile powered by OverDrive can be seen as an educational exhibit and promotional tool. This community outreach vehicle is for both public libraries and schools to promote their digital collection of eBooks, audiobooks, and streaming video to their communities. Visitors on the Digital Bookmobile learn how easy it is to borrow titles in the digital age.

This traveling exhibit first launched in 2008 in Central Park, New York, and has since traveled more than 175,000 miles and welcomed 218,526 visitors at 869 events.

In the end, our goals are the same. Traditional bookmobiles and the Digital Bookmobile strive to spread literacy to the masses. OverDrive is proud to be the industry-leading digital reading platform for more than 40,000 libraries & schools worldwide. OverDrive’s implementation of the Digital Bookmobile allows them to support their school and library partners while educating their communities on this service.

Digital Bookmobile 2017 (Second Generation) An education and learning tool on wheels.

16 Events in California, Oh My!

February has come and gone for the Digital Bookmobile staff. We kicked off the 2018 tour in February with 16 great stops in California.

Starting in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Digital Bookmobile saw more than 600 students between San Leandro High School and Longfellow Middle School. Students attended a presentation inside the Digital Bookmobile with their classes to learn how to borrow eBooks and audiobooks. We love the way San Leandro High School’s library promotes their digital collection with photos of book covers!

OverDrive wall in San Leandro High School’s library.

Next we visited Contra Costa County Library where we had quality interactions teaching patrons about digital content. One man came on board so he could teach his wife how to download library books to her eReader. What a guy!

The Digital Bookmobile shifted into gear and traveled north to the city of Sacramento. The Franklin Library neighborhood showed up on a Saturday with 201 visitors! Their prize wheel was a hit and helped attract patrons onto the vehicle.

Staff at Sacramento Public Library, Franklin Branch greeting visitors during Digital Bookmobile event.

Back to San Francisco Bay Area we drove to Serramonte Library where, “Our patron base was very interested in the bus and ebooks in general,” said Branch Manager Cole Johnson. The following day we visited Marin County Free Library in San Rafael. This unique event brought together 3 different bookmobiles. The library did a great job at promoting the event through email communications, social networking, and word of mouth as the majority of the 86 visitors brought their personal devices and got all set up.

Three staff members assist patrons at Marin County Free Library.

Closer to San Jose, the Digital Bookmobile made stops at Alameda County Library and Cupertino Library, seeing over 340 visitors. Both large libraries, they each had their own character. We had fun showing the IT department at Alameda County Library’s Fremont Branch all the tech inside the Digital Bookmobile. They were looking everywhere, taking pictures under tables and of devices. Cupertino Library is in the heart of Silicon Valley and we saw many tech savvy visitors of all ages. Two tables were set-up outside the Digital Bookmobile where visitors could stop for giveaways, information, and even enter to win a device. (Yes, we did drive past the new Apple “spaceship” headquarters after the event… and the little we saw looked sweet.)

Then it was off to Los Angeles. School Librarian Lisa Kooi was enthusiastic to host the Digital Bookmobile at North High School, a 20 min. drive from Manhattan Beach. Over 240 students in English classes had an opportunity to visit the Digital Bookmobile and interact with a variety of devices on board. We heard several students say, “This is so cool!” when walking on. The next day took us to OC Public Library’s University Park Branch where the library was very welcoming and organized. Library Assistant Noel Brady said, “Thank you for coming! It was exciting for both staff and patrons; entertaining, educational, and inspiring!”

Chinese New Year was in full swing during our visit to University Park Public Library.

Eighty miles south of LA we visited Dorothy McElhinney Middle School in Murrieta. Their collection showcased elementary and middle school content, great for students below reading level or who wish to read to their siblings. It appeared that Murrieta Valley USD has done a great job setting up their digital collection because checkouts jumped after our event. District Librarian said, “It was heartwarming to see kids excited about reading!”. The next morning we got to sleep in a few hours before we set up shop at OC Public Library’s Aliso Viejo Branch. Enthusiastic Library Assistant Nervana Helmy got kids on their feet with a story time on the Digital Bookmobile! She read three eBooks from OverDrive and interspersed them with songs and a Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes workout.

Our final leg in California took us to San Diego. Chula Vista Public Library welcomed us at their storefront branch where giant Jenga provided fun during the event. Next, Escondido Public Library greeted us with a quick hail storm followed by the warm sun. That didn’t deter staff members and library regulars from visiting the Digital Bookmobile. After a day off, we headed 25 miles north to Fallbrook Library. One woman visited and was surprised how fast it was to borrow an eBook. She hopes to share the Libby app with her reading group and said, “I have a new friend Libby now!”

Young man reading a graphic novel at Fallbrook Library.

The last stop in California was Mt. Carmel High School. The Digital Bookmobile hosted four classes, but the meat of the event was two open houses. Before school started and at lunch, groups of well behaved students curiously walked through the giant vehicle on their campus and were surprised when they saw a bunch of tech. It was a good reminder that their school offers free eBooks and audiobooks! Teacher Librarian Mia Faulk stated, “Lauren & the OverDrive crew Brett and Ira were all amazing. From the moment teachers and students entered the trailer they were invited and welcomed into a wonderful and engaging experience!”

One of the best ways to close out our time in California was with a sunset.

Cabrillo National Monument (National Park) in San Diego, CA.

Thank you to all the schools and libraries who welcomed the Digital Bookmobile to the golden state. For more photos from Digital Bookmobile events, please view our Flickr page.

Digital Bookmobile Hits the Road in 2018

The Digital Bookmobile is geared up and ready to hit the road in 2018! After taking a two month break this winter, the Digital Bookmobile (and its staff) are refreshed and enthusiastic for a great year. We’re pleased to announce that we’re starting our 2018 tour at San Leandro High School in California on Monday, February 5th. The Digital Bookmobile will then make its way down the coast of California before heading east in March.

What is the Digital Bookmobile?
A high-tech update to the traditional Bookmobile, the Digital Bookmobile is for public libraries and schools to promote their digital collection of eBooks, audiobooks and streaming video to their communities. Readers of all ages can learn about and engage with digital books at their local school or library inside the Digital Bookmobile. The traveling exhibit tours North America and contains several interactive learning stations. All Digital Bookmobile events are free to host and attend.

Digital Bookmobile Team
A mighty team of three at OverDrive work on the Digital Bookmobile tour. Digital Media Event Specialists Joe Skelley and Lauren Bajda work full time with the vehicle. Joe plans and prepares for all events while Lauren travels and executes those events. Renee Bixler, OverDrive’s Director of Marketing Services, oversees the Digital Bookmobile team. And, last but not least, we can’t forget about our fourth member, Ira Newman. He is our driver from Legacy Transportation and Logistics who is joining us for a second year on the road! We’re happy to have him back as he goes the extra mile to both drive the vehicle and educate visitors.

Follow Us
Follow our journey around North America as we spread reading happiness through eBooks & more. Visit our website to view the route, follow our blog for stories from the and tips, and communicate with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Flickr. 

Cheers to a Successful 2017 Tour!

We did it! From June to November 2017 (only 5 1/2 months), the Digital Bookmobile held 69 events at public libraries and schools in 63 cities, 25 states, and 1 Canadian province. Cheers to an incredibly successful 2017 tour!


  • 8,526 – Total number of people who visited the Digital Bookmobile
  • 757 – Of the 8,526 visitors, 757 were amazing library and school staff
  • States – The Digital Bookmobile visited AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MO, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, TN, TX, UT, and WI
  • Canada – The Digital Bookmobile visited 5 cities in the province of Ontario (Canada 150 blog post)
  • Libby – OverDrive rolled out their one-tap reading app to new users in June 2017, right as the Digital Bookmobile hit the road!

Where to Next?

The 2018 tour will start early February in sunny California and will run until November. In the meantime, we are preparing a full year of amazing events. Just think how many places we can visit in 10 months!

Students from East High School in Salt Lake City, UT



Digital Bookmobile in the Golden State

Eureka! We hit gold in California with six great Digital Bookmobile events. These were all great, but we’re going to highlight three that really stood out.

10/28 Buena Park Library District

Who needs Taco Tuesday when you can have Taco Saturday at your local library?! Buena Park Library District offered free taco plates to patrons who learned about eBooks and more during their Digital Bookmobile event. This drew in quite the lunch crowd as we saw a total of 166 patrons, many whom were unaware that the library offered so many digital titles for free!

Carnitas & Taquizas, Quiroga De Laragoza

11/3 California Library Association (CLA)

When patterns are broken, New Worlds Emerge. This was the guiding theme at this year’s California Library Association Conference. OverDrive was a sponsor during this three day event and brought along its new and improved 42-foot long Digital Bookmobile to the second day!

Library staff from around the state got a chance to see the Digital Bookmobile and request it to visit their home library. It was great to hear that a majority of visitors offered OverDrive at their libraries and that they enjoyed our new app Libby!

11/7 Santa Clara High School

What happens when you host 10 minute class presentations on the Digital Bookmobile? You get to see 444 students! We saw a lot of students at Santa Clara High School during English classes and drop-in times.

During drop-in time, students went right to the devices, put on a pair of headphones, and started browsing digital titles on the Digital Bookmobile. We overheard one student tell her friend, “We should both read this book and then discuss it,” while browsing the digital collection on an iPad.

Overall, we had a great time in California and look forward to visiting in 2018! View our Flickr page to browse more photos from our events.

Top Questions About the Digital Bookmobile Answered!

The Digital Bookmobile gets a lot of curious visitors with a lot of curious questions. As the full time staff member traveling with the vehicle, I get to hear all of them. Heck, when I started traveling with the digital bookmobile six months ago, I wanted to know the same thing! Here are the most frequently asked questions… and answers… I get on the road.

Do you drive this?

No. We contract a driver through Legacy and the driver must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). It’s a big Toterhome!

Do you sleep on here?

I don’t, but the driver does. In the front cabin, there is a twin bed, sink, microwave, mini refrigerator, and TV for the driver. Think tiny house. The Digital Bookmobile typically stops at a truck stop for the night and OverDrive staff spend the night in a hotel.

Where do you sit when it’s moving?

When the Digital Bookmobile closes up for the day, we slide the walls in and lock up the back. No one can be in the vehicle while it’s moving except the driver. OverDrive staff and I drive a separate rental car to and from events.

Do you get to travel everywhere with the Digital Bookmobile?

Yes! I am the current full-time staff member on the Digital Bookmobile, executing all events for our North American tour. A second OverDrive team member will typically join me for two events in a row then return to the office in Cleveland, OH. Staff at OverDrive have the chance to sign up to the Digital Bookmobile roster to work with the public at a Digital Bookmobile event. Our driver is also hired full-time and travels to all events.

It smells new.

This isn’t a question, but we often hear, “This smells like a new car!” The current Digital Bookmobile was finished in June of 2017, so it’s still pretty new! And we Swiffer, does that help? The old Digital Bookmobile retired at the end of 2015.

Those are the top five questions I get on the Digital Bookmobile. Have one of your own? Leave a reply and we’ll answer it for you!

Four Amazing Events in Texas

Photo Credit: Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas

This October, the Digital Bookmobile visited the Lone Star State. We began our trip by visiting two elementary schools near Dallas and finished by visiting two public libraries near San Antonio. We saw excitement, diversity, and creativity among events.

10/11 Central Elementary – Lewisville ISD

The Digital Bookmobile hosted six, 45-minute presentations to fifth grade classes at Central Elementary. Presentations provided an overview of their school’s digital library where students can borrow up to three eBooks or audiobooks at a time. Central has a large Hispanic population so we were able to highlight their vast collection of Spanish titles. Students were also excited to see many eBooks of interest, especially Minecraft, a video game series.

10/12 Gentry Elementary – Mesquite ISD

Who knew fourth graders were so much fun? The entire fourth grade class of 140 students at Gentry Elementary took a trip to their parking lot to visit the Digital Bookmobile. With iPads in hand, students browsed their digital collection while OverDrive staff demonstrated on a large 75″ TV.

Staff at Gentry Elementary said, “”It was a great day! Students were fully engaged and learned about our digital library! Bookmobile staff was very friendly and helpful!”

Watch this ADORABLE video of the event on YouTube.

10/14 San Antonio Public Library

We took part in Landa Branch Library’s Grand Reopening and 70th Anniversary Celebration. With a myriad of activities planned outside, the Digital Bookmobile fit right in. Some fun activities for the celebration included the Digital Bookmobile, crafts, ballet workshop, face painting, balloon artist, live music, book sale, and a reading village with teepees!

Even a police officer joined in on the fun and downloaded the Libby app while posted near the Digital Bookmobile. Over 120 visitors in this walking community learned about additional ways to read for free through their digital library.

10/15 San Marcos Public Library

Library staff Patsy Liao and Suzanne Sanders were rock stars at San Marcos Public Library! They encouraged  patrons, especially senior citizens, to bring their electronic devices onto the Digital Bookmobile to get set up with their digital collection of eBooks, audiobooks, and video. San Marcos Public Library visited retirement centers ahead of time to distribute flyers as a marketing tool. Users of all ages stopped on though, including several students from the University of Texas who were excited to download the Libby app.

The excitement of students, diversity in population, and creativity of events were the perfect mix for four amazing events. More photos from our events “deep in the heart of Texas” can be viewed on Flickr.

Top 3 Features Students Learn on the Digital Bookmobile

10th Graders at Auburn High School explore their library’s digital collection of eBooks & more on their personal devices.

The new Digital Bookmobile made its first school stop to Auburn High School in Alabama! On Friday, September 22, 2017, students from four English classes learned how to borrow titles from OverDrive on the Digital Bookmobile itself! The Digital Bookmobile can come to your school too. We are currently taking requests to visit school libraries who want to promote their OverDrive collection, for FREE. We will work with your school to arrange times for classes to visit the Digital Bookmobile and will teach students about borrowing eBooks & more in a fun and interactive way. To request the Digital Bookmobile at your school, visit our website and fill out the “Contact Us” form.

Take a peek at the top three OverDrive features students learn on the Digital Bookmobile:

1. Formats

OverDrive offers eBooks, audiobooks, streaming video, and read-alongs for classroom and personal use. Each are distinguished with an icon in the upper right hand corner of the cover.

Read-alongs are a must for young or struggling readers! Read-alongs are OverDrive Read eBooks with professionally recorded narration that plays along while you read. Pages automatically turn when the narrator reaches the end of the page. If you’d like the narrator to repeat any word, sentence, or paragraph, simply click on the word you’d like to hear again.

2. Dyslexic Font

OpenDyslexic is a font created to increase readability for readers with dyslexia. A heavier bottom is used to show which way is supposed to be down. Visit to learn how to enable dyslexic font on your library’s OverDrive website, in the OverDrive app, or in OverDrive Read


3. Definition, Notes and Highlights

In OverDrive Read, you can look up word definitions, highlight words or sections of an eBook, and add notes. To look up a definition or add a highlight, click (or tap) and hold a word, then select from the pop-up menu. When you add a highlight, you’ll have the option to add a note.

Notes and highlights can even be saved and exported from your school website. This offers a great opportunity for students to quickly send notes to their teacher, print as a study guide, keep personal notes, and more.

We end school events with an exciting game of Kahoot! Kahoot is a review style game where players answer multiple choice questions on their own devices. The top three winners on the Digital Bookmobile win prizes! ?

For more information on all the features of OverDrive, please visit our help site.

Note – Some features will vary between the digital collections of a school library and public library. In addition, by submitting a request for the Digital Bookmobile, you are not guaranteed a spot on the tour.

One Advertising Technique to Promote Your Digital Collection

One creative way to promote your digital collection is to use the following advertising technique from marketing pioneer Berma-Shave: Post humorous rhyming poems on small sequential highway roadside signs.

Burma-Shave was a Minneapolis based shaving company famous for its advertising. Typically, they posted a series of six small signs along highways, spaced for sequential reading by passing motorists. The last sign would feature the Berma Shave logo. According to Advertising Age (2003), about 600 different Burma-Shave verses appeared in more than 7,000 locations in 45 states.

One example from 1929 read: Every shaver / Now can snore / Six more minutes / Than before / By using / Burma-Shave.

When the Digital Bookmobile visited Mauney Memorial Library in Kings Mountain, NC this September, we saw this great marketing idea! Library Assistant Trey Ross created the rhyming poem to promote their digital colleciton of eBooks and audiobooks.

Now it’s your turn. Create your own Berma-Shave jingle to promote your digital collection, your library, your school, anything! You’ll be sure to bring back memories and raise awareness in a lively way.

Digital Bookmobile Celebrates Canada 150

This is a big year for Canada as it celebrates it’s 150th anniversary!

The Digital Bookmobile paid tribute to this monumental year by visiting five libraries in Ontario, Canada this past July.

7/18 Toronto Public Library – Agincourt Branch


Senior Collections Specialist / “eBook Goddess” Maria Cipriano got everyone fired up to visit the Digital Bookmobile at our first stop in Canada on our 2017 tour. Library staff worked two tables outside to promote their e-materials, including OverDrive. They had a prize wheel, candy, and give aways. At the end of the event, one lucky winner went home with a Samsung Galaxy Tablet.

7/19 Brampton Library – Cyril Clark Branch

Brampton built on community relationships with Starbucks and Tim Hortons to sponsor free coffee at this event. With all hands on deck, freezies, and a prize wheel, they had 377 visitors walk through the Digital Bookmobile!

7/21 Bibliotheque Publique de Clarence-Rockland – Rockland Branch


Library Director Catherina was so excited to share her library’s digital collection of eBooks, audiobooks and video with her community of French and English readers. Preschool students even stopped by the Digital Bookmobile!

7/22 Ottawa Public Library – Sunnyside Branch


The quaint Sunnyside Branch hosted 180 visitors on the Digital Bookmobile during our visit. Business Librarian Amy H. said, “The event was incredibly successful – lots of dedicated interest as well as those just curious.”

7/24 Chatham-Kent Public Library


A windy day brought in a gust of visitors who were interested in trying something new and learning about OverDrive’s newest app, Libby! Chatham-Kent did a great job reaching out to their local media and received coverage during the event from at least four different media outlets.

Happy anniversary Canada.

Team OverDrive