The Bookbus comes to Broad Bay

The Bookbus comes to Broad Bay

For almost 50 years the bookbus has made its way ‘down’ the Peninsula, wending alongside the scenic harbour to make weekly stops at Portobello, Broad Bay and Macandrew Bay, providing reading material, along with a chat, to local residents. For more than 25 of those years I have been the librarian on this run, with a colleague. For the last five years Gretta and I have relished our Wednesday ‘trip to the country’ that the Peninsula run represents.

Residents of Broad Bay have always been enthusiastic users of the mobile library service. It provides a focal point for the community, a place to meet with friends and neighbours. It is a delight and a privilege to get to know the locals and their reading preferences. The bookbus currently parks alongside Broad Bay School so the students can come aboard, along with local readers, and at times is gets very crowded! Over the years I have seen students leave for high school, then years later reappear with children of their own.

The Peninsula run is a highlight of my working week: the views, the people, lunch ‘out’, the air – all make for a lovely (and very busy) day jaunt. Though, I’ll admit that the roadworks over the past few years have made for challenging driving and scary detours.

For two weeks in July, with the road upgrade complete, I brought Dunedin Public Libraries’ new electric bookbus, Te Pahi Pukapuka, down Portobello Road for the first time. Driving the big vehicle (it’s longer, wider, and higher than the 32-year-old diesel buses it is replacing) was a breeze. However, it can’t manage the narrow roads and tight turns required to park outside Broad Bay School. Instead, we parked down on Portobello Road, which is where the bookbus parked when I first started on this run so many years ago.

Buses change, people change, communities change – but books, well, books have always provided me with such delight and joy, and I have absolutely loved helping my customers find their next great read (or vice versa) over my many years as your bookbus librarian. 

By Jo Howard

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