Farewell to the Bookmobile



Everett has had a long history of taking the library out into the community. Bookmobile service began in May 1924 when the prohibitive expense of operating branch outlets in the community caused the library to invest in a Ford Model T truck modified to serve as a “book wagon”, a traveling mini-library. Named Pegasus after the flying horse of mythology, it was the first bookmobile in Washington State.


By the time this photo was taken in 1945, Pegasus was showing her age. After many years of service Pegasus was retired in 1950.

kidsbookmobileThe current bookmobile was purchased in 2004 and has served Everett preschools ever since. I have been the bookmobile librarian for the last two school years and would see about 700 children each month at area ECEAPS, Headstarts, daycares and private preschools. The typical visit would include a full storytime followed by a visit to the bookmobile where each child had the library experience of selecting and checking out a book which they would read and care for that month. These were children who often did not have the opportunity to visit the library on their own because of busy work and family schedules. These current photos were taken at a children’s concert at Silver Lake last summer.


Sadly, this long history of Bookmobile Service in Everett is coming to an end this month. Due to the City reducing the library’s budget by $200,000, the Library Board had to make the very difficult decision of cutting Outreach Services.

-af770c83da9e5b82I am inspired by this librarian who was an Outreach Librarian in New York City. When her job was cut because of the budget, she moved to New Orleans and started up a bicycle mobile service to the children of the Lower 9th Ward.  She received the first ever Lemony Snicket Award for her service and she gets some good exercise also.


We do have some bookmobile themed books in the library which may be of interest to you. The children’s book Wild About Books by Judy Sierra is a fun read about librarian Molly McGrew who drives the bookmobile to the zoo where the enthusiastic animals literally and figuratively devour the books. This is a great rhyming story which is perfect for reading aloud over and over again.

index (1)The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton is a novel about Brooklyn librarian Fiona Sweeney who wants to do something that matters, and she chooses to make her mark in the arid bush of northeastern Kenya. By helping to start a traveling library she hopes to bring literature to far-flung tiny communities where people live daily with drought, hunger and disease. Her intentions are honorable, and her rules are firm: Due to the limited number of donated books, if any one of them is not returned the bookmobile will not return. But, encumbered by her Western values, Fi does not understand the people she seeks to help. And in the impoverished small community of Mididima, she finds herself caught in the middle of a volatile local struggle when the bookmobile’s presence sparks a dangerous feud between the proponents of modernization and those who fear the loss of traditional ways.

I will now be working full-time inside the library at both the Evergreen Branch Library and the Main Library. Come see me in the library!

Book Club Adventures

A long time ago, in a job/city far away, I was tasked with forming a book discussion group. As a fairly introverted person whose previous work experience was along the lines of solo archival work with just a dash of librarianship, I found the idea a bit terrifying. Would I have to talk? With real people? Shudder to think. Little did I know that hosting the book group would soon become one of my favorite parts of the job.

The Adventures of Augie March CoverThings didn’t start out all that easy, though the pay-offs tended to be pretty satisfying. On one memorable occasion none of my small group of regulars were able to attend. At the very last minute I had one woman, previously unknown to the group, ask to set up an alternate meeting date to discuss the book. We met over lunch, and she proceeded to rip into everything she disliked about my selection for about 20 uninterrupted minutes (The Adventures of Augie March). She actually told me that she wanted to meet so that she could tell me how much she hated the title. After she’d gotten it all out of her system and my ears stopped burning, we actually settled down to a really great, in-depth discussion of the book. I happened to have loved the book, so there was some really lively back and forth. After that she never missed a meeting.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo cover imageMy fledgling club didn’t gain much traction until I picked a current bestseller to discuss. Attendance for our Girl with the Dragon Tattoo discussion was triple the usual amount. This was both a blessing and a curse. From the large group that attended we gained many new regulars. On the downside, the group was large and unwieldy and the flow of conversation was a bit awkward. Lesson learned? If you want to kick-start a new club consider picking something that’s new and hot. If you want to ensure success in the long run, pay attention to what your regulars are into and choose your reads wisely.

Mill Town cover imageFast forward to the present day where I find myself, once again, at the helm of a young book club. This time I get the chance to experiment with doing a themed club: local history and literature. Amazingly, our first meeting was well-attended and lively. We decided to do a mixed approach, where we led off with a mini-lecture on a related topic and then launched into the discussion. This worked wonderfully with Mill Town, which tells the story of Everett’s early days up until the notorious Everett Massacre; our group really enjoyed seeing the book’s pages brought to life with images from our archives. Our second title, The Mushroom Hunters, was a more intimate discussion with some folks who were very interested in foraging and the politics surrounding it. We swapped stories and recipes, and everyone left having learned something new. It was a treat to get to talk with people who were genuinely enthusiastic about the selected title.

The Beginning of a Mortal cover imageThis month we host our third discussion in the series: Max Miller’s The Beginning of a Mortal. I’m excited to see how things go. My colleague and I picked Miller’s autobiographical work of fiction because he wrote extensively about his childhood in Everett. I loved the book’s lively vignettes of daily life in Mill Town highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly with humor and compassion. As an additional perk, the book is sprinkled with charming pen illustrations of the author in his Huck-Finn-like adventures about town. So if you’re like me and have a thing for hobos, shingle mills, and history, come to the Northwest History Room to grab a copy from our book club set. We’d love to see you at our meeting on August 25th, at 6:30pm in the Main Library Training Room.

Word on the Street

024Ah the typewriter. Those of a certain age may remember when these machines were not collectibles or antiques but vital tools for the writer and office worker alike.  It’s probably been a while since you’ve seen a person hunched over a manual wordsmitherary, trying to produce a coherent sentence without the aid of spell check, but if you’ve been strolling down the streets of downtown Everett recently you may have stumbled upon this very scene.

These modern-day hunt-and-peck aficionados are participating in the city of Everett’s latest outdoor interactive art project titled Word on The Street. Ten vintage typewriters seated atop artist-embellished typewriter tables have been placed on sidewalks throughout downtown Everett. But these creations are not simply museum displays, no no no! People are encouraged to type away and leave their musings for others to discover. And to get the creative juices flowing there is a Question of the Day, provided by Everett Public Library staff no less. If you want to see all of these machines from yesteryear, a list of all their locations is available, including one found in the library of course. Don’t take too long though; the typewriters will only be on the street through August 5th.

typewriterartAs you ponder what to type, you may be interested to learn that the typewriter has actually been at the heart of an artistic movement for many years. If you would like to take a gander at all the art that was inspired and produced on this humble instrument, definitely check out Typewriter Art: A Modern Anthology by Barrie Tullett. In the pages of this handsome book you will find a surprisingly wide and varied array of works as well as interviews with those who use the medium.

So what are waiting for? Get out there and type.

Adult Summer Reading Reviews

We are nearing the mid-way point for the Literary Elements Adult Summer Reading Challenge. Many of you have signed up and received lots of great prizes. Some of you have gone out of your way to share reviews of books that you have been reading this summer. It was hard to choose, but a few selected reviews are shown below from the ones we have received so far. Thanks to all for participating and sharing your reviews with us!

An Inquiry into Love and Death by Simone St. James (Reviewed by Patricia R.)

inquiryintoloveanddeathAs a dedicated reader of fiction– Mysteries and Sci-Fi Fantasy–for over 65 years, this book surpassed anything I have ever heard of or read. From the first page to the last, it is a slow builder of suspense! And yes,fear! This is my first encounter with Gothic, though it is not the gory horror stories that make one ill. Ms. St. James has welded together Gothic, Mystery, and Romance with such great skill that the reader should not be surprised if she experiences goose bumps in the final chapters. Location is England in the early 1900’s, shortly after WW1, in a remote village. Ms. St. James writings are filled with spine-tingling, terrifying characters, but, there is also the beautiful romance with a Scotland Yard Inspector and the discovery of Jillian’s family history. I would share with you that this story is so compelling and intense that I would not choose to read this at night before bed. In some ways, a wonderful, old-fashioned ghost story! Her three books have been reviewed and listed on the NY Times Best Seller List with the 4th one to be released in April, 2015.

The Way of All Fish by Martha Grimes (Reviewed by Cathleen V.)

wayofallfishContract killers who take jobs on the condition that they can decide for themselves whether or not the target is worthy of elimination is an intriguing idea. Even though the inside flap of this novel gives the impression that the hit men are the focus of the tale, there are a large number of other characters who are part of the detailed schemes in this book. Some of the characters have talents, skills, hobbies, and occupations that could make them worthy of novels of their own. The twists, devious manipulations, and humor kept me reading through the points in the story which seemed slow or less relevant to the plot, even a few places where I was not certain I wished to continue on reading. I would say this is all right as one of my first reads of the summer. It requires some attention to keep track of several characters and storylines but is not so challenging that it is frustrating.

Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why it Matters for Global Capitalism by George Akerlof and Robert Shiller (Reviewed by Cynthia W.)

animalspiritsI like to be reading a novel and a non-fiction book at all times. I have lots of opportunities to share good novels with friends and co-workers but I really value this forum to share an occasional non-fiction book. I just finished reading Animal Spirits, a look at classical economic theory and Keynesian theory in light of our questions regarding the recent behavior of our world economy. I have no training in economics so I was a bit nervous but also encouraged by the funny artwork on the cover and the mention of human psychology in the subtitle. The authors, George Akerlof and Robert Schiller, are economists whose names I have seen and heard in the news. While their collaborative style of writing is not graceful or very engaging, it is also not academic or difficult to understand for readers with a good all-round education in other fields. In fact, there is humor to be found in these pages. Beginning with a brief over-view of the work of Adam Smith and his most influential successor John Maynard Keynes, the authors point out the strengths and weaknesses of both theories as they have historically been applied to policy decisions. The “animal spirits” element of Keynes’ analysis, largely ignored by economists since his time, are explained as elements of non-rational human psychology that influence financial and economic decision-making. Since most decisions are made by people who are not following a theoretical ideology but are attempting to make the right decisions for themselves and their society, human psychology plays a greater role than previously acknowledged by theoreticians and scholars. The human considerations examined here are confidence, fairness, corruption and bad faith, money illusion (a new concept for me) and the human propensity to create a narrative story around our lives and circumstances. The effects that these considerations have on individual decisions, relationships and political discussion are easy to see in the world right now. In part 2 the book attempts to answer questions that depend on the economic concepts and human psychology presented in part 1. Questions like “Why do economies fall into depressions?” (lots of history in this one regarding both the US depression of the 1890’s and the Great Depression of the 1930’s that effected the whole world,) “Why are there people who cannot find a job?” (surprisingly, classical theory and the stripped-down version of Keynesian theory do not recognize the existence of involuntary unemployment,) “Why is saving for the future so arbitrary?” (including individual and cultural influences on decisions to save or spend,) and “Why do real estate markets go through cycles?” Animal Spirits is only 177 pages long but I would not call it an easy read. Neither is it too difficult. The insight into the current economic environment gained from this treatise ( the authors do espouse the view that government has a legitimate and vital role to play in economic health and stability) is well worth the effort. I feel more prepared to engage in discussion with the tools to express my own viewpoint and values and without rancor or accusation.

I Challenge You to a Read-Off!


Summer reading: it’s not just for the kids! Yes, these days your library makes it easy for the whole family to have fun reading all summer long. While we have a great Summer Reading Program (SRP) planned for children and teens, you may be surprised to learn that adults can participate as well. I promise that getting started is quick and painless:

Step 1: Sign up for the reading challenge online starting June 1st.
Step 2: Track your reading progress.
Step 3: Pick up a prize after the 1st, 3rd, and 5th books have been read and logged.

When you complete the final challenge you’ll be entered to win the grand prize, a Kindle Paperwhite! And don’t forget: your library card unlocks thousands of free Kindle downloadable books. All the details can be found on our website. Thanks to the Friends of the Library, who generously donated this year’s prizes.

So what else can you do? If you’d like to try your hand at blogging, write a book review and you may see it published right here on A Reading Life! Maybe my editor will give me the summer off if enough of you write some stellar book reviews. If you’ve seen my list of reading resolutions you can understand how I’d like to spend my summer: getting through some of my tougher reading selections.

If you’re more of a hands-on person, you’ll be interested to learn that we’ll also have some fantastic events that tie in with our theme of Literary Elements. The one I’m most looking forward to is learning home brewing from Don Roberts. Yes, the owner of Everett’s Homebrew Heaven will be at the Main Library June 17th at 7pm, ready and willing to teach us how to create our own craft brews at home. Finally, I can join the ranks of my idol Wil Wheaton–at least in terms of home brewing.

literary not literal twins

Staff have gotten on board as well, a few of us going so far as to purchase Literary Elements T-shirts to promote this awesome reading opportunity. Be sure to stop by and tell us how it’s going. After all, I’ve challenged you, a worthy opponent to a read-off. You’ll definitely want to brag.

Astronomy Day


Have you ever wanted to look through a telescope? Then come and help us celebrate Astronomy Day! We will be hosting the Everett Astronomy Club on Saturday May 10, 2014 in the Main Library Children’s Activity Room. The Everett Astronomy Club will have telescopes set up that you can look through, as well as video and computer displays and amateur astronomers to answer your questions.

At the event, you can learn about light pollution, observing techniques, stars, galaxies, planets and meteorites. Weather permitting, they are going to try to set up a telescope outside for solar observing. We have lots of books about astronomy if you are interested in learning more either before or after the program!

astronomy books

The group will also have their telescopes set up at Harborview Park on Friday May 9th and Saturday May 10th from 6:00 PM until midnight (weather permitting) and you can gaze at the stars there as well.


Lives Change @ Your Library

Okay, guys. Buckle up! This is going to be a wordy post, but I promise it will be an extremely rewarding read. Last week was National Library Week. Libraries across the country celebrated in various ways, but we all shared the same theme: Lives Change @ Your Library. Here at EPL we talked to you. My colleagues and I, armed with cookies and a laptop, asked you to share your library stories. We asked you to tell us what you love about the library and how it may have impacted your life. I have to say that the experience was both entertaining and very humbling. The shorter stories I tweeted; the longer ones I will share with you here. Know that every single one of you warmed my heart and made me thankful that I’m able to work with people like you.

“I’ve hung out at libraries all my life. I’ve been a big reader, a big fan of the library my whole life. I’m an artist now and use the library to do research for my sketches. I use the copy machines and take advantage of the large tables to spread out my stuff and sketch. It’s all right here.”
–Shawn, Main Library

“I grew up in an at-risk neighborhood where no one read books and some never graduated from high school. However, because of the public library one block from my elementary school, I dreamed of a better future. I graduated from high school and college, and worked as a secretary for insurance and bank company executives.”
–April, Evergreen Branch Library

“I used to come here when I was a kid and sit in the children’s area. I’d read while sitting on the giant stuffed gorilla! Remember that old globe that used to spin? I literally used to check out 30 books at a time and read them all and bring them back week after week. I was a really advanced reader. Now I can’t do anything new without reading a book first. Books are kind of my life.”
–Jessica, Main Library

“This library is a great community resource. And now that I’m unemployed, the library is my main resource for everything.”
–Anonymous, Main Library

“I love how the Everett Public Library is sending the mobile library out to our apartment building. A lot of people really need this service! If we don’t have it we find it very difficult to get our reading material. So keep it coming!”
–Nancy, Outreach Services

“Scott is the coolest reference librarian I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Cam is great, too! Marge is a jewel. And David in the Northwest Room runs the best historical room on the planet!”
–George, Main Library

“I started going to this library in 1993 when we moved here. I was eight years old. I won the mayor’s reading award several times. My mom and I are still patrons, but now I bring my own kids. They do the summer reading program, too. It’s definitely a wonderful place to be. We also love all the changes.”
–Anonymous, Evergreen Branch Library

“When I was a little girl, my mother used to take me to the Seattle Public Library regularly. then she became ill with tuberculosis and had to go to a sanitarium, leaving my brother and I to live in an orphanage. I cried and cried and wouldn’t eat, I was so sad. That evening, one of the orphanage staff said that they were having story hour and maybe I would like to come. I went with her, still sniffling, to the story room, and there was my librarian from the Seattle Public Library! I knew then that I was going to be okay.”
–Silver, Outreach Services patron


“Ever since we moved to Everett eleven years ago, the Everett Library has been our favorite place in town. Other favorites have come and gone with the ages of our children, but the library has always had something for everyone; from storytimes, to free concerts, to all the history books I’ve wanted for homeschooling, to summer novels, how-to books, friendly children’s librarians–who became household names–to genealogical research tools and theology. The library has enriched our lives in so many ways. We can’t wait to see what it holds for us next!”
–Anonymous, Main Library

“Libraries are the first thing I look for when I move to a new town. A child that has nothing else in their life can go anywhere in the world, thanks to the library. It changes lives. This library has all the best books that I want. I’ll look up current bestsellers and they’re already in the catalog, waiting for my hold. You have a marvelous library! You do such a good job ordering everything that people want. Whenever my friends and I are sitting around talking about the best reasons to live in Everett, the library is always number one. I like to fall asleep in my bed with a library book on my chest. I. Love. The. Library!”
–Sharon, Main Library

“The Outreach program serves a lot of people that could not use the library if it was not offered. There are two ladies working for Outreach that are God-sends. Both of them work hard to provide services to people that need this service.”
–Charlie, Outreach Services

“I like religious books and read a lot about the Amish people. These books help me get a new meaning in life as I walk with Christ.”
–Nellie, Evergreen Branch Library

“I’ve been coming here since 1997. You’re doing a great job here. The library keeps me sane. Genuinely, I’m reminded of my hometown library in England, which I love. You have a great selection of English DVDs here. I honestly think that a lot of Everett residents don’t realize how fortunate they are with the services the library has.”
–Roy, Main Library

“The library gave me the opportunity to read a great deal more when I was unable to get around, due to the lack of transportation. It’s close to home, within walking distance.”
–Anonymous, Evergreen Branch Library

“You are a wonderful place! Without you, I would not have had any friends here. The library is a place for me to go to work on my patent, and a place to find good books to read. When I was homeless you helped me so very much. I never knew you had it in you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
–Mike, Main Library

“I love books! Books externalize who I am, my very identity. I can have esoteric notions in my head about what I believe, the way I think about things. Then there’s that magic moment when I’m reading a book and the author frames it just right, and I’m like, bam! There it is! That’s why I love reading. Libraries are a vital portion of that because I can come in and find a book and take on it, be two pages in and think it’s so amazing. That’s why I love libraries and that’s what libraries mean to me.”
–Shane, Main Library

“I can lose money going to community college, or I can go to the library. If classes get too tough, I drop out, and that tuition money is lost to me. The Everett Public Library is free and lets me learn at my own pace. I see I can’t get through college, so I’m not going to continue to sign up for classes and lose that tuition money. On my library card it states, ‘To inform.’ The library definitely informs me. I save thousands of dollars.”
–Anonymous, Main Library

“Well, if I didn’t have the library, I would be totally bored! Since I haven’t had a TV for twenty years, that’s about all I do is read. Now that I’m retired from my job I come here more often. I can get the bestsellers, biographies, work on the computers, and read the latest magazines. The library is a good place to go on a rainy day. It’s just great! I love the library! Thanks to everyone who runs it.”
–Anonymous, Evergreen Branch Library

“I lived here when I was doing my schooling. Back around 2002 at City University, they told us to use the Sno-Isle libraries. I said the Everett Public Library has everything you need! They said no, use the Sno-Isle facilities or go to Renton and use CU’s. I stayed here! It had everything I needed, including those books that tell you who is running which businesses. I perused the periodicals, especially Harvard Business Review. EPL definitely had the right kind of resources for students like me doing research on businesses. You don’t have to travel to a different library system or wait for materials to be delivered. At EPL I can walk in and get what I need.”
–Brian, Main Library


“I got caught reading books under my desk in the third grade when I was supposed to be paying attention in class! My teacher sent a note home with me to my dad that said to take me to the public library so I could read to my heart’s content. And that’s what he did! I have always loved books and loved to read. I can’t get enough reading. I worked in the high school library when I was growing up. When I eventually had kids of my own it was difficult to find the time to read, so now I’m always sneaking away a little bit of time to read. I love coming here. It’s a quiet place away from my regular life. I come here not just for entertainment but also for learning.”
–Rose, Main Library

“I’ve been coming to the library for over thirty years! And now it’s so fun to bring my children here and relive all the nostalgia. I love seeing their imaginations run wild as they make new library memories of their own!”
–Charlotte, Main Library

“The library has given me a chance to learn about and experiment with new technology! I have enjoyed trying blogging, photo editing, and web design! And it’s the best place to do my personal research using the library databases for medical information, genealogy, and consumer buying guides. It’s also great to have free eBooks, audiobooks, and digital magazines! The library enriches my life!”
–Esta, Evergreen Branch Library

“I have been going to the library since I was really little and I always used to do the summer reading program. The library has challenged me to read more books and expand my mind about what to look for. The library is always an adventure. I am friends with all the librarians and they have changed me by being there for me in a way I can’t explain. Thank you, Everett Public Library, for being the best library ever.”
–Marisa, Main Library

“As a new father, I discovered that the library had playtimes on Mondays and Wednesdays. During that time, I had to watch my son. So it gave me something to do with him. As a young and naive father not knowing what to do, I saw that the library provided programs like STEM. It gives my son an opportunity to experience things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to expose him to, especially the social atmosphere. He’s learning social dynamics and how to interact with others his age. The library helps me to feel like a productive father in his development. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know what to do for him. Since I’m a homeless guy, it gives me somewhere to be as well. For the homeless community, this is a staple where other services for the homeless have been shut down. Especially on wet, rainy days, the library provides shelter and entertainment. The library has also provided me with crucial internet access that I use to search for services. It gives me a lot of encouragement and faith in the community that this isn’t a solitary endeavor in life. It’s a community effort that improves each other’s lives.”
–Anonymous, Main Library

“Before I started using the Outreach program, I didn’t have access to the library at all. Mobility and transportation problems limited where I could go. Now I can get books I’m interested in on a schedule I can manage. I am so pleased with the Outreach ladies, too. They are courteous and knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with. Without this program I would be quite bored and isolated.”
–Orion, Outreach Services Patron

“We moved to Everett when I was five years old. We rarely had money to buy books and, let’s face it, my public school education was less than stellar. Over the years, I’ve spent thousands of hours in this library, and have checked out and read hundreds of books, for one reason and one reason only–it was free. Now I’m pursuing my Master’s in English, and I owe everything, I believe, to having early access, free-of-charge, to as many books as I could get my hands on. How has Everett Public Library changed my life? The Everett Public Library has made my life what it is today. Thank you, EPL, and support your local library!”
–CL, Main Library

“EPL at both its branches, have been places that I know I can always go to, to obtain a myriad of materials that will either educate or entertain or, most likely, distract me from my life, which happens to be a good thing. I always know that the staff will go above and beyond what they need to do in order to help me in any way possible find what I need. Every time I come to the Main Library for what should be only fifteen minutes, I end up spending two hours here, thoroughly enjoying myself. A big thank you to all the staff here.”
–Denise, Main Library

Working behind the library scenes as a cataloger, I don’t often get to see my impact. This changed everything. Having a reminder of why I do the work that I do was a big boost to my morale and overall work satisfaction. I want to say a big thank you to everyone who made this project possible. To the staff at both library branches and our Outreach crew, and especially each of you who shared these wonderful parts of your lives with me: Thank you.