Pop-up Library launches virtual book mobile for students

Portsmouth Herald
Published: 3/25/2020 5:32:39 PM

To keep healthy literacy habits alive during COVID-19 school closures, the Portsmouth Pop-Up Library program has launched a virtual book mobile.

Schools and public libraries are closed into April, at least, and as a result, there’s a limited access to free books for students and families, who simultaneously are navigating a new world of remote schoolwork and unstructured free time.

Particularly for low-income families, the closure of libraries cuts off access to a slew of free resources and reading materials.

“Especially right now, books can just do so much for helping kids relax,” said Kelly Moore, Portsmouth Middle School librarian. “It seems incredibly important for them to have access to stories to take a break. And really anything that’s not a screen.”

The Portsmouth Pop-Up Library, volunteer-run by school librarians, is currently collaborating with Portsmouth public schools to ensure students can request and receive books while they are home.

The program launched three summers ago, but this past summer, a grant from the Clipper Foundation funded a stylish, outfitted book trailer, which Portsmouth Middle School librarians Moore and Tara Mickela brought weekly to various city neighborhoods.

The Portsmouth Pop-Up Library aimed to combat the “summer slump,” where it’s feared some kids lose an edge in their education, while others are hurt by their circumstances; low-income and without access or transportation to the public library, for example

Each week, students could peruse the library and select books to take home for free – no questions asked. During the summer of 2019, the program delivered 1,255 books to 439 kids and parents.

Once again, the Pop-Up Library is galvanizing, but this time virtually.

During school closures, students can fill out a Google Form, and the Pop-Up Library will order and ship the book(s) directly to them. The Pop-Up Library is funded entirely by donations, and is actively fundraising to continue the virtual book mobile as long as necessary.

“When we saw this coming, we immediately started thinking about services we’d be able to provide to the kids,” Moore said. “We realized pretty quickly we weren’t going to be able to access library books.”

The Portsmouth Pop-Up Library has an Amazon Prime account, and since this past weekend has ordered more than 20 books so far for students requesting them.

“The kids know how much we care about them, but we just want to be as present as possible, even if that means getting a package in the mail,” Moore said. “We just want to stay connected.”


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