As we celebrate National Bookmobile Day, we’d like to celebrate Susan Parkins, Laramie County Library System Senior Outreach Specialist. Often spotted behind the wheel of the LCLS bookmobile, Susan is a leader at the national level as Vice President/President-Elect for the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS).
ABOS’s mission is to “support and encourage government officials, library administrators, trustees and staff in the provision of quality bookmobile and outreach services to meet diverse community information and programming needs.” The organization provides a forum for discussion of activities, programs, challenges, and successes in the field of outreach services.
Susan started her library career in May 1989, starting as a circulation assistant for two years. She then moved into children’s services and was a storyteller and worked on programs for 10 years. In 2001 she became the Outreach Specialist, responsible for the bookmobile and homebound services as well as still working in the main library in children’s services. She received her ALA LSSC (Library Support Staff Certification) in 2014 and was a 2004 recipient, along with Judy Norris, of the Wyoming Library Association’s Milstead Award.
What I love about my job is having the opportunity to take library services outside of library walls to those who do not have access, for whatever reason, to a brick and mortar building.
The bookmobile visits 11 schools throughout Cheyenne, Albin and Carpenter and six community stops during the year. Summertime ramps up the activity with extra stops, including free school lunch sites. Outreach Librarian Melanie Hornbeck Esp takes it to some of the local daycare centers as part of her daycare outreach program. The bookmobile can be spotted at community events including Superday, Safe Kids Day, Back to school events, and Family Literacy nights.
Homebound services are also a big part of her job. Susan visits individuals in their own homes and at nursing homes, retirement centers, assisted living centers, and an adult day facility. She visits each location once a month with a rotating collection of library materials. While she doesn’t do any specific programming at these stops, she’s assisted with book clubs and checked out the library’s memory kits to staff at these facilities.
Susan Parkins has been an advocate for outreach services in Wyoming through activities including discussion roundtables and presentations at the Wyoming Library Association’s annual conference. “I’m hoping that I can be proactive in getting the interest going again for a support group for outreach in our state,” she said.
Each year, usually in the fall, ABOS holds a conference to provide training and networking opportunities. It advocates and promotes library outreach services and is affiliated with ALA ODLOS (American Library Association Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach services). Susan chairs the long-range planning committee, and is hoping to see the 2019 ABOS conference come to this area.