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Mobile library puts new spin on reading

December 21, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — The Imperial County Children and Families First Commission and partner agencies have put a new spin on the traditional bookmobile with their new Literacy and Mobile Book Services unit.

Though the vehicle is essentially an RV, the brightly painted exterior depicting desert critters reading books under the sun is the first clue this is no ordinary van.

The LAMBS unit is designed to bring books and other bilingual services to children age 5 and under and their parents who may otherwise not visit a library or receive this information. On board are children's' books, health, nutrition and parenting materials and computers with educational software programs.

When the roving lab begins making trips in January, it will visit nearly all Imperial County communities from Winterhaven to Ocotillo, Salton City to Calexico.

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Expected to be on the road 20 days each month, the LAMBS unit will visit two or three sites per day, said Marjo Mello, director of the Brawley Public Library.

Kids and parents enjoying story time at the Brawley Public Library on Thursday got a sneak preview of the van.

"It's beautiful. I'm so glad that they have it," said Imperial resident Cheryl Reber who, along with her son Matthew and daughter Emily, took a quick tour of the van.

Reber said she was especially pleased to learn it would be traveling to smaller communities lacking the resources of larger cities.

"It's great that they can do that," she said.

The Brawley Public Library, along with the California Children and Families Commission and the California State Library, partnered with ICCFFC to bring LAMBS to the county.

The ICCFFC awarded LAMBS $330,043 for all operational costs in the first year of the program, as well as the resource materials and books used. The state CCFC also awarded LAMBS a grant for more than $200,000 to build the van.

"The vehicle itself should last 20 years," Mello said.

The Imperial County Children and Families First Commission was established after voters passed Proposition 10 in November 1998, adding a 50- cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes to fund education, health, child care and other programs to promote early childhood development for children from infancy to 5 years old.

Imperial County receives about $2.5 million annually to fund programs that meet local needs.

>> Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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