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The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library

With 'Mini-Libraries,' Mobile Services Expands Literacy and Tech

Posted about 27 days ago by Ryan Dunn

When a grandmother needed an Uber account to pay for her loved one’s rides to work, Mobile Services helped her register.

For the countless job applicants who sought resume workshops and online submission forms, Mobile Services provided the lift.

Troubleshooting phone problems, researching health concerns and instructing on identity theft protection – each time, Mobile Services guided the way.

This Toledo Library department offers a wealth of support to people across the area. Some of its resources, such as books for those who cannot visit branches, are long-standing and well known. Others, including technology to bridge the digital divide, increasingly reach new customers. Its librarians are resourceful and engaging while serving the public. They create an on-site gateway for any reference question.

“We like to say we’re serving from the age of 3, because we go to preschools and Head Start programs, to the age of 103, because that was the oldest person we had on board,” Mobile Services Manager Pat Nigro said.

Among its fleet is the Mobile Tech Center, an expansive, state-of-the art computer lab that acclimates customers to technology. Toledo Library was second in the country to receive the vehicle grant, after the Houston, Texas system. The need for technology training is real. A stubbornly high divide remains between those with and without digital literacy. Federal Communications Commission officials estimate about 24 million American do not have broadband internet.

Truly to broadcast the message that we are there to help those in need, wherever they are in the circle of life.
Pat Nigro
Mobile Services manager

Mobile Services also operates the Bookmobile, visiting neighborhoods and shopping centers with a collection of about 3,000 items. Carpet and wood shelving inside make it feel like a traditional library room. In partnership with Toledo Public Schools, the vehicle visits STEMM academies of Chase, McKinley and Marshall to meet students.

Programs also include the Homebound Delivery Service to about 400 customers, Book Hauler with carts of items for local facilities and childcare kits to educate area youth. As the department’s role shifted, it too has embraced different names. In 1938, it was called Special Services. It changed in 2004 to Outreach Services.

“I have seen a transformation in our identity through our name,” Nigro said. “Truly to broadcast the message that we are there to help those in need, wherever they are in the circle of life.”

Mobile Services continues as part of the Library’s larger mission of inspiring learning and providing access to information.

“We’re able to uniquely offer that service because all of our mini-libraries on wheels give us the opportunity to roll right where people live, gather and work,” Nigro said.