The new Viking Library System (VLS) bookmobile is now on the road, continuing more than 40 years of service to the region. The bookmobile replaces an older model that proudly served the area for more than 28 years, crisscrossing the six county (Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens and Traverse) service area, accumulating more than 450,000 miles.

Contributed photo
The Viking Library Bookmobile received a new mural and paint job before hitting the road this summer.

The Viking Library System is excited to be able to share the new bookmobile with communities this summer after more than a year of providing modified services to bookmobile patrons. 

“During the past year, our priority has been on providing safe service during the pandemic, which meant getting books and other library materials to our bookmobile patrons differently,” said Erin Smith, VLS Director. “To be able to share this brand new bookmobile, now, this summer is such a special gift! Inviting patrons on board for the first time carries extra special meaning for all of us.”

The bookmobile was constructed by LDV Specialty Vehicles, based in Burlington, Wis. The new truck includes several features specifically designed for serving VLS patrons, including solar panels that will generate electricity to power the bookmobile’s batteries, which in turn will help run the lights, heating and ventilation system, and computers, increasing energy efficiency. Boosted Wi-Fi also means those visiting the bookmobile can use the bookmobile’s signal to download Viking Library System eBooks and audiobooks in addition to checking out print materials.

Bookmobile patrons will also notice that the new vehicle looks more like a truck than a school bus. Built on a truck frame, with the cab separate, the bookmobile features air brakes and suspension, and slightly taller ceilings than the old bookmobile. 

Perhaps the most noticeable features are the exterior murals created and painted by local artist Scott Gunvaldson. The murals feature local landscapes with a nod to west central Minnesota’s four seasons. Bookmobiles of Viking Library System past are also a part of the artwork, traversing down our region’s rural roads. 

The mural on the back panel of the truck is designed to represent a view inside of the bookmobile. Drivers following the new bookmobile as it traverses those rural roads will get a sense of peering inside and perusing the stacks. Bookmobile patrons will be able to decorate their own 3D paper bookmobile by picking up a paper template during a visit to the truck this summer.

Patrons stepping onto the truck for the first time will notice the bright and inviting interior, lit by LED lights and natural light. They will also be welcomed by rows of shiny new books, DVDs, magazines, audiobooks and more for all ages. The new bookmobile is also decorated inside with artwork created by youth. 

The bookmobile stops at 50 different public locations throughout the summer months, visiting each community once every two weeks. The bookmobile also serves more than two dozen area senior care centers and assisted living facilities year round, and 15 schools during the school year.

The bookmobile will be stopping in Henning on Tuesday, June 8, 22, July 6, 20 and August 3, 17, 31 from 3:20-3:50 p.m. at the former nursing home and from 4-4:45 p.m. at Clement Manor. It will also be stopping in Deer Creek from 2:15-2:45 p.m. on those same days. 

The bookmobile will also be making stops in Ottertail at Betty’s Pantry from 3:15-3:45 p.m. on Tuesday, June 15, 29, July 13, 27 and August 10, 24.