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‘Bringing the library to them’: Spokane County district’s new ‘branch’ is a traveling bookmobile

June 24, 2022 Updated Wed., June 29, 2022 at 11:31 a.m.

The Spokane County Library District’s LINC mobile library is photographed on Tuesday at Valley Mission Park in Spokane Valley. LINC got its name from the acronym “Libraries In Neighborhoods & Communities” and is a library on wheels.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
The Spokane County Library District’s LINC mobile library is photographed on Tuesday at Valley Mission Park in Spokane Valley. LINC got its name from the acronym “Libraries In Neighborhoods & Communities” and is a library on wheels. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
By Cindy Hval For The Spokesman-Review

The newest Spokane County Library District site has much in common with its original location.

The district’s first library was a bookmobile, and now its 12th “branch” is a library on wheels, said Amber Williams, the district’s strategic project manager.

The 34-foot hybrid Freightliner is known as LINC, an acronym for “Libraries in Neighborhoods & Communities.” LINC, as well as a new mobile services van, was made possible by voter approval of the 2019 library levy.

During the summer, LINC will be making stops at Spokane County parks and free meal sites. In the fall, LINC will have a regular schedule of stops to different communities around the county. The goal is to reach areas without a nearby library branch. Planned stops include Latah, Elk, Spangle and Rockford, among other locations.

“We want to be able to reach the farthest edges of the county,” Williams said. “This is much more financially feasible than building brick and mortar libraries in outlying rural areas. Instead, we’re bringing the library to them.”

LINC offers all the features of its brick-and-mortar counterparts. You can sign up for a library card, return books in the book drop and check out new books, DVDs or CDs. But the vehicle’s design means staffers can offer much more than a traditional bookmobile.

“We can provide programming, résumé help and informative events for adults and kids,” mobile services specialist Sarah Rooney said.

Along with borrowing materials and participating in programs, you can connect to Wi-Fi for your mobile devices, use a library computer and access the internet at LINC, and print your files using the library’s Mobile Printing option.

“It’s as much library as we can put in a vehicle,” Williams said.

The mobile library is also versatile.

Shelves can be removed, desks and seating added, and art supplies are tucked into the risers at the rear of the vehicle. There’s even a lift for those who can’t navigate the entry steps.

On Tuesday afternoon at Valley Mission Park, guests toured the expansive space. Sunshine streamed through the three skylights, but LINC’s air conditioning kept everyone comfortable.

Williams said the battery-operated air conditioning is 30 to 40% more fuel-efficient than the traditional kind. The new library in the Valley has a garage with a charging station, but Avista is letting the district charge LINC at one of its sites for now, she said.

Danielle Marcy, mobile services supervisor said, “People are very excited. It prompts a lot of nostalgia. They recall bookmobiles in the past.”

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