Poudre River library district rolls out community outreach van

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Collegian | Lucy Morantz

Poudre River Public Library District’s Old Town Library is located on the corner of Olive and Peterson streets Oct. 3.

Allie Seibel, News Editor

The Poudre River Public Library District is unveiling a sustainable community outreach van to bring library programs and resources to remote and under-resourced members of the community.

The van, nicknamed “Evie” by a community member through a naming contest, is an electric vehicle that library staff hope will bring technology, such as computers and printers, and books, free Wi-Fi and community outreach programs to under-resourced areas of the community.

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“(Evie) is an electric vehicle, where they take standard vans and buses and convert them from the standard gas-powered engines to electronic drive trains,” said Diane Lapierre, executive director of the Poudre River Public Library District.

“We were looking at what it would cost to buy a van and the amount of time it was taking, and it actually ended up being a shorter timeframe to get one from our local electric vehicle company,” Lapierre said.

The library’s goal for Evie is to have the van work primarily with communities that are either remote with low physical proximity to the library district or low-literacy, such as early childhood care facilities and senior centers.

“It’s going to be very focused on early literacy, and 70-80% of the time, it will be serving different childcare providers’ schools, and then the other 25-30% of the time will focus on older adults, so we’ll be visiting senior living facilities and senior apartments,” Lapierre said.

Evie’s staff, nicknamed the Vantastics, are primarily bilingual in English and Spanish to better interact with patrons in whichever language they feel most comfortable using.

“That’s another barrier that we’re able to overcome in the service model,” said África García-Fariña, community outreach librarian. “People can interact with our staff and have that library come straight to them in the language that they may be most comfortable.”

“We really want to make it a bright, vibrant, eye-catching van. … It’s almost like a mobile billboard for the library, a way that people can really think about the library and know that there’s something exciting happening and get involved with it.” –Diane Lapierre, Poudre River Public Library District executive director

Poudre River Public Library District serves an area of 1,800 square miles, almost the same size as the state of Delaware, Lapierre said.

“There’s just no way you can put a branch library within two miles of everybody’s home; we’re a really big geographic region,” Lapierre said. “In Fort Collins proper, there are populations, like senior housing and lower economic neighborhoods, where the barriers to getting yourself to a physical library are significant.”

Poudre River Public Library District hopes the introduction of Evie and concurrent programs will increase growth and interaction with the library in the community.

Our goal is to continue growing, serving and focusing on target audiences and expanding those services,” García-Fariña said. “Historically we have been a small department; right now is the time to push for growth, and the van is going to help us.” 

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While Evie’s programs have not begun yet, the van will be painted bright orange, a design choice Lapierre hopes will get the community even more excited about the forthcoming programs and opportunities.

“We really want to make it a bright, vibrant, eye-catching van,” Lapierre said. “When it shows up in your neighborhood or you see it driving through town, you’ll want to know what it is and what’s going on. It’s almost like a mobile billboard for the library, a way that people can really think about the library and know that there’s something exciting happening and get involved with it.”

While Evie will be primarily focused on serving under-resourced communities, the van will also be available upon request at community gatherings on weekends.

“Evie is going to be a gigantic hot spot,” García-Fariña said. “Wherever it goes, we’re going to bring resources that you might think are only available at the library or at home. We’re trying to make sure that we have all those services even on a smaller scale.”

Reach Allie Seibel at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @allie_seibel_.