New pop-up mobile library aims to engage underserved neighborhoods

New pop-up mobile library aims to engage underserved neighborhoodsPhoto: Motiv Power Systems
Scott Morris
Published on May 15, 2018

Oakland’s newest library can go anywhere; on Friday, the city unveiled a customized vehicle that brings books, laptops, tablets, electronic charging stations and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Dubbed the Oakland Public Library Mobile Outreach Vehicle (MOVe), the vehicle also carries gaming and bike repair equipment and can be used as a center for educational activities, movie nights, story times or just quiet reading.

“One of our long-term goals is to better serve our communities by connecting with them where they are,” said interim Director of Library Services Jamie Turbak.

“The MOVe is a great way for us to reach underserved youth and improve library access for those who have little contact with city services,” Turbak said.

The bright blue van is a Ford E-450 equipped with an electric chassis from Foster City-based Motiv Power Systems.It was designed by Gyroscope, Inc., and fabricated by Sheet Metal Alchemist, both businesses based in Oakland.

Its side panels, which rise up to reveal the books and equipment available, are adorned with illustrations designed by the nonprofit youth art organization Dragon School and students from MetWest High School.

When all its panels are extended, the library is 21 feet long and nearly 15 feet wide.

A 3D printer was one of many amenities on hand when the library stopped at CIty Hall Friday. | Photo: Motiv power systems

The mobile library’s first stop was outside of City Hall on Friday, where it was parked outside the front entrance for most of the day.

“The libraries are the public service that is enjoyed by everybody,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said outside City Hall on Friday. “No matter what part of the city you live in, no matter your age, your income, your language, everybody loves a library.”

Schaaf then cut a red ribbon on the new library and there were activities throughout the day, including games, a 3D printer demonstration and a Korean cooking workshop.

The mayor used the event as an opportunity to campaign for a measure on the June 5 ballot, Measure D, which would impose a $75 parcel tax for library services for the next 20 years.

The tax would provide about $10 million annually for library services. City officials have said that the tax would allow the library to extend branch hours and allow some part-time workers to become full-time employees.

Previous parcel tax measures became a stop-gap for library funding following the 2008 recession. The new parcel tax would alsoset new minimum allocations from the city’s general fund and require the city to increase the library’s budget if other non-emergency city services are expanded.