Sarasota County's mobile library will be popping up soon in Longboat Key as the island becomes a regular stop on the new Pop-Up Library's route.
Although the Pop-Up Library has only been on the road for about a month, the idea for the mobile library was formed two years ago during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It's throughout Sarasota County, we know that we have neighborhoods where maybe it's inconvenient to reach a physical library, or maybe we have high numbers of working families where their hours just don't mesh with the library's open hours,” said Renee Di Pilato, director of Sarasota County Libraries and Historical Resources.
Di Pilato said it took about two years to get the needed funding. The library was able to raise $125,000 for the vehicle thanks to the Library Foundation for Sarasota County and a grant from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation. With Sarasota County providing extra staff, the dream of a mobile library became a reality.
The mobile library can carry "about eight full carts of books," said Di Pilato. “And not just books, but all kinds of library collections that we can accommodate.”
The pop-up library will also bring library programs to communities that usually don’t have access to them, including story time for children, a hotspot to connect to the internet, technology tutorials, library cards and other traditional library services.
Di Pilato said the Pop-Up Library will try to curate what it brings to the demographics of each area it visits. It will be as accessible as possible by also being available at hospitals, community centers and at events with community partners.
“People are so excited about the pop-up,” said Di Pilato. “We're getting a lot of requests from different groups out in the community to have the pop-up come to their events. It's been very well received because it's a matter of convenience. People might be out in a park or a shopping center, and they're able to access the library via this vehicle, whereas before it would be an extra trip to a library. It's really nice for us to get to those people that we normally wouldn't be able to see in our libraries.”
The pop-up library will be on Longboat Key the first and third Tuesdays of every month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Town Hall starting Nov. 7. The Pop-up Library will also be at the Longboat Key Veterans Day celebration on Nov. 11.
“Library services are so valuable, they’re a way to keep people learning,” said Di Pilato. “We provide enriching content, so this pop-up is there to make it very convenient, and easy for people to access those resources. I just think it provides a quality of life to the area that makes this community such a great place to live.”
Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.