As part of National Library Week the Laurens County Public Library System will celebrate 75 years of Bookmobile/Outreach services on Friday, April 15, 2016, from 3-5 PM at the Laurens County library. The public is invited to attend.
When most Laurens County residents think of the Library, they think of two locations: the Laurens County Library’s West Main Street building, which opened in 1989 and the Clinton Public Library which operates in a storefront of the College Station Shopping Center on the Jacobs Highway and has for quite some time.
Yet, there is a third branch of the Laurens County Public Library System. Just don’t look for it to be some particular building along some particular street. It is not. It is a vehicle, not a building. It can be found on many different streets and roads, throughout the entire county. The third branch of the Laurens County Library is the Bookmobile.
Old newspapers tell us there were book delivery services as early as 1929 in Laurens County, reaching out to Laurens County residents that were unable to routinely visit the existing facilities. These have ranged from horse-drawn wagons and converted milk trucks, to more modern and specialized vehicles. The Laurens County Library System got its first official bookmobile in 1940. Those dedicated individuals who have delivered books to the far reaches of the county have been people like Dr. Wil Lou Gray, Elaine Martin, and most recently Leigh Tumblin. Now that torch has been passed, or rather the keys to the bookmobile have been passed, to Julian Shabazz.
Julian Shabazz is no stranger to Laurens County and its libraries. He is a Clinton native and worked for the Laurens County Public Library System from 1996 to 2002. Shabazz provided circulation services in the Laurens County Library, the Clinton Public Library, and the now-closed Joanna branch of the system. He has also worked in academic libraries at Benedict College, Indiana University and the University of South Carolina. Even though he has had over 12 years of library employment, Julian has also worked in other fields: as an instructor at the college level, as a musician, a motivational speaker, and as a writer. He’s the author of 10 non-fiction books.
Shabazz took over bookmobile services in the fall of 2015 when Leigh Tumblin announced her retirement. There was a period of learning the back roads of the county and the routes within the cities as well. Learning the needs of the patrons in all those locations and also the changes that have come to the library system since he left in 2002 have been another part of his adjustment to Laurens County Bookmobile life. Still with all he has done to step into the position already, one can easily see that the wheels of change and improvement are turning rapidly in his head. The question is this, how can Bookmobile services be enhanced, developed, and changed to offer more things to more people? Julian explains, “One thing we are currently doing is instituting a public awareness campaign, to make sure the citizens of Laurens County know what services are being offered through the Bookmobile. Someday though, we would like for the bookmobile to be able to offer all of the other services that are offered at the libraries in Laurens and Clinton.”
Stepping into the Laurens County of tomorrow and beyond, the bookmobile will continue to tour the county, making its scheduled stops and greeting its regular patrons. Yet under the guidance of Julian Shabazz, some new and exciting things are on the horizon for the bookmobile and patrons.
Laurens County Public Library System Director Ann Szypulski concludes, “I am very proud of our bookmobile services and hope to continue to serve all areas and communities of the county for a very long time to come”.
For more information about the Bookmobile and all of the services provided by the Laurens County Public Library System, please call or visit the branch near you:
Laurens County Library, 1017 West Main Street, Laurens, SC 29360. 864-681-7323 Clinton Public Library, 107 Jacobs Highway, College Station, Clinton, SC 29325. 864-833-1853 Laurens County Library Bookmobile, 864-681-7323 ext. 219