Watsonville Library adds pop-up van

The Watsonville Public Library is in the process of adapting this van to become their first mobile library van. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE — Principal librarian Alicia Martinez would one day like to deliver the gift of reading to the Watsonville community while at the wheel of a giant book-centric bus.

“Wouldn’t that be great? Maybe in the future,” Martinez said.

For now, Martinez and the rest of the folks at the Watsonville Public Library will test the waters with their newest addition: the BiblioVan.

The converted 2019 Ford Transit Connect will be retrofitted with shelving to hold and display a variety of books, movies and music. It will also be equipped with internet access and a laptop so staff can register customers to help them check out materials and search the library’s catalog.

Martinez said this project has been in the works for some time.

“We’ve always been known as a brick and mortar library, but I’m always looking at how we can bring the library to our community,” Martinez said. 

The van won’t be a traditional traveling library, according to Martinez. Instead, it will make pop-up appearances at community events throughout the year. 

It will make its debut at an upcoming Watsonville Certified Farmer's Market, and be present at future events like National Night Out in early August.

“We see this as a perfect way to conduct some community outreach,” Martinez said.

Large type print and books on tape will also be available.

“We're going to be able to take our library out to the community,” she said.

The $30,000 project received half its funding via an innovation grant from the Pacific Library Partnership. The other half was raised by the Friends of the Watsonville Public Library and the City of Watsonville’s cannabis tax.

A call to artists was sent out to help develop a design for the exterior of the van. But since no designs came forward, Martinez said the van will now be painted by Pajaro-based Chaz Automotive in Pajaro.

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