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Bookmobiles bring the school library home
Youngsters board the Reading Rocket in search of books as the bookmobile makes a regular stop at The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County's Joseph F. Walters Club.

Gainesville Middle School student Jordan Griffin approached the bus with suspicion at first.

“What is this?” he asked, peeking into the windows.

Soon enough, though, he was sitting inside on the floor, browsing through books, looking for one about drawing.

The bus in question is Gainesville City Schools’ Book Trunk, a mobile library that visits different neighborhoods in city limits on a biweekly basis. In its second week of operation, the bookmobile first visited Harrison Square Apartments on Thursday.

Though still new, volunteers said a lot of kids came out to The Book Trunk in its first week and expect the same throughout the summer.

“I thought it was great,” said Gainesville Middle School teacher Jim Bradley. “The kids were so excited to get books, and this is probably the only way to get books in some of these households.”

The Book Trunk is the newest bookmobile to hit roads; Hall County Schools’ Reading Rocket has been zooming along for a few years now.

The Hall County Schools’ bookmobile heads out twice weekly, hitting spots in the northern portion of the county on Tuesdays and visiting South Hall on Thursdays.

“We found last year that the program was a huge success and it was a powerful, sustainable way to put books in the hands of kids over the summer,” said Jill Kelly, media specialist at Martin Technology Academy of Math and Science. Kelly helps organize the Reading Rocket’s schedule and volunteers.

“And so, (Hall Superintendent Will Schofield) said last year, let’s do it as a trial. It was successful, so we decided to expand this summer as it’s something that is not a huge investment but has a great return.”

Reading Rocket volunteer Danica Pruitt said around 200 books were checked out of the Reading Rocket on Thursday.

“The kids were so excited to see us, and very grateful and thankful,” Pruitt said. “We had several telling us that they were waiting for us to come.”

Teachers and others affiliated with schools volunteer time during their summers to staff the buses for both systems.

“I thought, this is a great thing to spend my summer helping with,” said Amy Anderson, a teacher at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy. She rode with The Book Trunk on Thursday. “I wish I could help more.”

Bradley agreed.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for libraries and media centers,” he said. “My parents helped start a school in Atlanta, so I think this is a great outreach.”

Griffin ended up not finding a book on art or drawing, but he settled on a graphic novel from the popular “Goosebumps” line of children’s horror stories.

He also ran to bring a friend on the bus.

“Go on and pick out a book,” Griffin prodded.

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