We asked bookmobile drivers about the preferences of Utah’s readers — and we weren’t exactly surprised to find out that the biggest demand came from kids.
Kids’ books > Of course. The state’s public libraries, including bookmobile patrons, rank first in the nation for the number of children’s books borrowed per capita. That’s about 16 million children’s books checked out in Utah annually.
Westerns > Louis L’Amour stories remain “forever popular,” as do Western adventure novels, says Becky Lopshire, who drives the Tri-County bookmobile in Piute, Sevier and Wayne counties.
Audiobooks > Rural Utah residents are likely to drive long distances for work, shopping or entertainment and like new audiobooks, says Britton Lund, who heads the state’s bookmobile division.
Perennially popular > Young adult and fantasy novels. And “gentle read” novels, without swearing or sex.
Hike this way > Garfield and Kane’s Multi-County Bookmobile stocks the largest selection of hiking guides and audiobooks.
In 2018 > Last year, Tara Westover’s “Educated,” a memoir about growing up in a survivalist Mormon family in rural Idaho, was one of the most requested books. One Tri-County Bookmobile patron was surprised to get his hands on a copy. His daughter had just placed a hold at the Provo Library and was 45th in line, Lopshire says.
The bookmobiles’ new ride > The state’s bookmobile program aims to maintain state and county funding rather than expanding, says Britton Lund, program director. Routes are planned to erase county lines to save time or money. The trucks in Utah’s aging fleet, which are prone to breakdowns, are being replaced, one per year. A new fleet of coach-style vehicles is scheduled to be in place by 2025.
— Ellen Fagg Weist