Background & History of Mobile Library Literacy Services
The MLLS vehicles were made possible starting in 2000 by a $2.1 million grant from the California Children and Families Commission, now known as First 5 California. You may know this program better as Proposition 10 – the $ .50 per pack of cigarettes initiative approved by California voters in 1998. The monies collected are used to fund education, health and child care programs that promote early childhood development, from prenatal to age 5.
The local MLLS libraries each named their program – like Monterey County Free Library's "Reading Safari" and Stocton/San Joaquin County Public Library's "Training Wheels" - and designed their own exterior graphics, making each vehicle unique to the community it serves.
Partnerships developed by the local libraries have allowed them to offer families access to a variety of important services such as bi-lingual parenting workshops; nutrition, dental and vaccination information; and low-income health insurance programs, in addition to providing services to address emergent literacy needs of children ages 0 - 5.
Services offered include: storytimes, music, craft and reading activities for parents and children, as well as teaching parents the importance of reading to their young children, and age-appropriate strategies for helping young children meet kindergarten readiness standards. Families are also given free books to keep in order to help with building home libraries, and can also borrow additional books, games and parent education materials.
The MLLS utilize library literacy staff and materials, as well as a wealth of in-kind staff support and materials from the partner organizations and others in the community wishing to reach these populations. The "One-Stop-Shop" mentality pervades the service delivery plans in each community. Information and education about a variety of child development, parenting and health issues is provided on board these vehicles, in addition to the early literacy services.