After brainstorming ways to get the library out into the community, Tully Free Library (NY) Director Matt DeLaney purchased an old pushcart that was used in a mall via Craig’s List. He also bought paint that matched the library’s colors; community volunteers did the painting. Local business owner Tim Delavan built the roof, local woodworker Ed Hillenbrand built the shelving units; and local artist Brendan Clark added a finishing touch of fairy tale and science fiction graphics
The Buggy was then filled with about 300 used and donated books and placed on the beach at local Green Lake. Said DeLaney, “We really didn’t want to compete with nice weather and a beautiful beach, so we just decided to set up a library right on the beach. We really had no idea that it would be such a success!”
Teen volunteers sorted through the hundreds of books, which were previously stored in the library’s attic, and selected an assortment of fiction, non-fiction, children’s, and adult books. Since visitors are free to keep the books, the volunteers reloaded the Buggy every Monday and Friday during beach season (supplemented by donations from beach visitors). They needed to—about a third of the Buggy’s load gets taken each week.
“We get tons of donations throughout the year, so there was no concern about running out of books to fill the buggy,” DeLaney told LJ. “At this point it is definitely a sustainable book distribution model, as we have a huge net gain of donations throughout the year.”
“The first day we opened it, the teens set it up, and we left before the beach opened to the public,” Kelly Chambala, Young Adult Librarian, said. “By the time I got home, I had calls from friends who said the Buggy had a swarm of people and they were just loving it. We visit the beach often, and there’s not a day when people aren’t crowding around the buggy.”
The Book Buggy stayed on the beach through its Labor Day closing and now lives in the Director’s garage—with occasional outings to about six to ten outdoor events throughout the year.
The Book Buggy will take its usual place on the beach next summer, but it may have a second life elsewhere in the county as well. “At least one other library that we know of is pursuing a Buggy of their own,” DeLaney told LJ. “Several libraries expressed an interest in developing their own unique version.”