- Associated Press - Sunday, July 19, 2015

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) - At Lennox Park it was gray and damp except for the Burlington Public Library’s bookmobile, whose eccentric decal provide a splash of color to the landscape.

Songs by bands such as One Direction and Selena Gomez resonated from the truck’s speakers as Burlington School District librarian Donna Carlson lowered the entrance to the truck, The Hawk Eye (https://bit.ly/1V78LET ) reported.

Carlson has been driving the bookmobile through neighborhoods in Burlington and West Burlington each Wednesday for the past month. Her goal is to bring books into neighborhoods where children have difficulty getting to the library themselves.

“That summer slide is what we’re trying to prevent,” Carlson said.

Schools must plan time into their first quarter curriculum to review skills taught during the previous school year, but lost during the summer months.

That loss is referred to as the summer slide. This slide can be more drastic for children of lowincome families, the culprit of this being less access to books.

“So we bring the books to them,” Carlson said. “It’s imperative we don’t quit learning.”

The bookmobile’s first stop on a recent Wednesday was at Blackhawk Village, subsequent stops were at West Burlington High School and Lennox Park before the librarians stopped for lunch.

Carlson stood on the back of the truck peering into the raindrenched park. She said Lennox Park is a popular stop, but since it had been raining all morning, she suspected it kept the children away.

“Where are all the kids?” Carlson asked to no one in particular.

A grandparent and a couple parents stopped by the truck, but still there were no children. An hour later, Carlson stopped at Stone Gardens Apartments.

As soon as Carlson opened the truck in the parking lot, a few apartment doors opened and children ran toward the truck. Two sisters, Shasta and Shylee John, were the first customers. Carlson greeted them with enthusiasm.

“We missed you girls last week! Where were you?” Carlson said.

The girls returned their previously checkedout books and began perusing the wooden shelves for their next read. Shasta is 13 and about to enter the eighth grade at Aldo Leopold Middle School. Shylee is 7, going into the second grade at Blackhawk Elementary School.

They flipped through the titles on the shelves and picked about five books each. The inside of the truck still smelled like freshly cut wood. Carlson pointed them toward books they might enjoy.

“Transportation is an issue, and we don’t like to take the city bus, so we don’t really make it out to the library,” said Jill John, Shasta and Shylee’s mother. “It’s nice the bookmobile comes out to this area.”

Carlson already is brainstorming ways to get more books into children’s hands next summer. She’s looking to changing up the schedule, public promotion and talks at the Burlington Public Library.

“It’s our first year with the bookmobile and it’s a learning curve,” Carlson said. “We’re always looking to see how we can do better.”

Carlson has received notice the Great River Christian School would like to see the bookmobile in its parking lot, so she is making arrangements.

“I’m doing this for the kids who might not have transportation or who might not know where to get books,” Carlson said.

“We may not have had a huge turn out, but we are reaching people and I’m happy with the way things are going.”

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Information from: The Hawk Eye, https://www.thehawkeye.com

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