If only we could all take a page out of Bel Neibel’s book. She’s the driver and librarian for the Morton Mandan Public Library’s Bookmobile.
“It is my dream job,” she says.
For half a decade, Bel has been hauling hardcovers up and down the highway — to places like Flasher, Glen Ullin, Almont, and on this day, New Salem, where there’s about to be quite a bit of foot traffic for Bel and her colleagues, Amy Rask and Mary Henderson.
“Ages from two days old all the way up to 96 years old,” Bel says, “and there’s books here to satisfy everyone.”
Mary Henderson is the Outreach Services Coordinator for the bookmobile. “I’ve been here long enough that there are some kids — I gave them their cards when they were kindergarten, first graders — and now they’re 5th, 6th, 7th graders,” she says. “It’s really fun to watch them as they progress in their reading and grow up as kids!”
Once the kids have made their selections, Bel is back on the road…
“When you’re up this high you get to see everything that people do in their vehicles,” she says. “And some of it scare the bejeebers out of me!”
…And back open for more business in downtown New Salem — from people like Kami Olson and Chris Morgenstern.
“When I was a little kid, I went to the bookmobile. I grew up in Minnesota,” Kami says. “And it was just kind of a magical place. And so we started coming as soon as we moved out to New Salem, and it’s kind of like that magical place for my guys, too.”
“The checkout people are just really nice,” Chris says. “I just like watching the DVDs, seeing what’s new, and reading some of the books they have.”
It all amounts to some long days on long roads for Bel — but she says a busy bookmobile is cause for optimism.
“Anybody who believes that the libraries are going out of style needs to ride with me for a month,” Bel says. “To see how wonderful it is when you can put a book, a movie, an audio, anything that the library carries, into the hands of a patron. And they don’t have to leave their town! All they have to do is drive to wherever I am!”
Bel Neibel — Morton County’s mobile librarian — is Someone You Should Know.
The Morton Mandan Public Library recently received a $30,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Trust.
That money will be used to expand the reach of the bookmobile and provide new services to the county.