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No time to visit the library? Ignacio’s Dewey bookmobile comes to you

Bus has books, movies, other services for children and adults
Dixie Cook, a librarian with the Ignacio Community Library and driver of the Dewey bookmobile, reads to children from clockwise, Connor Jackson, 10, Charlotte Leath, 5, Owen Crawford, 4, Cam Miller, 6, Cruz Stotts, 3, Rayna Miller, 2 and 11 months, and Brody Stotts, 4, during a stop at the Cowboy Church preschool southeast of Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

As Dixie Cook settles into her foldable plastic chair, seven children gather eagerly at her feet, eyes darting between piles of books, a tub filled with maraca eggs and play scarves, and the short, white bus parked behind her.

Cook, who works as the Ignacio Community Library Facilities/ILL Network coordinator, is also the driver of Dewey, the library’s new bookmobile.

Dewey, which has been making the rounds for about a month, made its first stop at the Cowboy Church preschool earlier this month. During the 1½-hour stop, Cook read children stories, gave them an opportunity to check out materials and led songs like “Wheels on the Bus.”

When they arrived at the line “the kids on the bus go up and down,” Cook paused the song to joke: “I don’t’ have kids on my bus, I just have to tell the books to stay put.”

Cam Miller, 6, left, Brody Scotts, center, and Charlotte Leath, 5, check out Dewey the cat. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Dewey, which brings library resources like books, printers and internet to stops all around southeast La Plata County, has been a dream of the Ignacio Community library for years, said Marcia Vining, the library’s director.

“After COVID, we weren’t seeing people – especially kids and families – coming back in the library the same way,” she said. “Then the schools went to the four-day week, and we weren’t seeing kids after school as much either.”

While Dewey is intended to serve the whole community, Vining said special attention will be paid to those who cannot otherwise access library resources, including children, those without vehicle access, elderly people and students attending institutions lacking libraries.

Every week, teachers at the Cowboy Church preschool would meet parents at Mercy Hospital, said Holly Kroeger, the preschool’s director. From there, they would ride a trolley to the downtown transit center before catching another trolley to the Durango Public library. Now, Dewy will visit them every week, bringing library resources directly to them and mitigating the need to travel.

Connor Jackson, 10, and Charlotte Leath, 5, look at books and movies in Dewey, Ignacio Community Library’s bookmobile, during a stop at the Cowboy Church preschool southeast of Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Dewey is stocked with a wide variety of materials with the hope that every guest can find something they are interested in, Vining said.

“We have a little bit of all of our collections in (Dewy),” she said. “We have books for toddlers that are called ‘indestructibles’ (board books) all the way up to our large print adult collection, nonfiction and fiction for all ages.”

Those who wants to check out a book from Dewey must be an Ignacio Public Library cardholder, but they can sign up right there at the stop, Vining said.

If Dewey is not carrying a selection a user is interested in obtaining, that person can search the library’s catalog, place the material on hold, and Cook will bring it to that person’s stop on her next pass through.

“We’ve actually had somebody do that already,” Vining said. “Which is exciting because you don’t really know how long it’s going to take for people to get familiar with (Dewey) and actually start using the services.”

While Dewey’s routes are still being finalized, Vining says 25 locations have already been identified as potential stops.

Locations include Navajo Lake, Oxford Grange, Spring Creek Grange and a local apartment complex.

“It sounds kind of funny to say it’s only a few blocks away. But if people aren’t using our services, we really have to find a way to get out to them,” Vining said.

The bus will run three days a week and visit each location once a week.

“I really wanted to be (the one) to drive the bus because I know the area,” Cook said. “I’ve lived around here for a long time and it’s just great to be able to outreach to people that way.”

While library staff members had wanted to create a mobile library for years, the dream became a reality when La Plata County commissioners granted the library a Social Impact Grant in the amount of $190,000.

Dixie Cook, a librarian with the Ignacio Community Library and driver of the Dewey bookmobile, reads to children during a stop at the Cowboy Church preschool southeast of Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The funds were designated to cover the costs of purchasing the bus, renovations and supporting additional staff members for four years.

In March 2023, Ignacio Community Library bought Dewey from Davey Coach Transportation.

Ben Olszewski, the Davey Coach Transportation consultant who sold the bus to the library, said he worked closely with Vining to find a bus and create a renovation plan that was within the library’s budget.

“And they did all of it for us. So they retrofitted, they did the build for shelves. It has a generator on it. There’s air conditioning and heat even when we’re parked at a stop,” Vining said. “They put on an awning and we’ve outfitted it so that we can do storytime or (other) programs.”

The rebuild took about four months, Olszewski said, which is standard for similar projects.

Owen Crawford, 4, holds up a Paw Patrol DVD he checked out from Dewey, Ignacio Community Library’s new bookmobile, earlier this month during a stop at the Cowboy Church preschool southeast of Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

“We love helping out with projects like (this),” he said. “You know, just the response from the community – people really enjoy having bookmobiles in remote (places).”

Because Dewey is still in its early stages, Vining said community feedback is greatly appreciated to help maximize the outreach Dewey and the Ignacio Community Library can do.

If community members have stops they would like Dewey to consider, Vining encourages them to reach out to library staff and share them as routes are being finalized.


Books in the Ignacio Community Library’s new Dewey bookmobile. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

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