OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — West Ottawa Public School is preparing to unveil its library on wheels, otherwise known as their Book Mobile, this summer.
The Book Mobile program has been around for 45 years and has changed a lot over the years.
The program started in 1975 when teachers at West Ottawa Public Schools realized students in their community didn't have access to books in the summertime. So, the school created the Book Mobile.
Volunteers started working on the latest version of the library on wheels last summer and spent more than 1,000 hours working on it.
"When we got a chance to transition from our previous bus to this one, like school teachers, we did our homework," said Mary DePree, president of the West Ottawa Education Association. "So we took a look at our former bus and thought, 'what works really well for us? And what are some things that we can change.'
Obviously, they kept the books, but wanted to carry more of them.
So, the team behind the bus added custom made shelving and gave the bus a brand new design.
Now the bus carries 4,500 donated books for both children and adults.
"We also have a new section of books on our bus this year, which we're very proud to announce. We have a section for social emotional learning. So students who are struggling with their feelings or situations in their life, they'll find a book on our bus that will help them navigate that," said DePree.
Right now, the bus is out of commission until Governor whitmer's Stay Home Order is completely lifted.
Once it is lifted, DePree and the people who run the bus say they will be thrilled to be back in the community.
"Relationships with our students, not only are paramount for us in the school year, but they continue to be an important part of what we do for students and families and our community throughout the summertime months as well. So we're thrilled to have this opportunity," said DePree.
The Book Mobile was made possible through fundraising and many sponsors, including the West Ottawa Education Association and the Michigan Education Association's Knowledge Has Value grant.