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Day 3: If you’re ever thinking of being a bookmobilista, I advise you to learn how to endure over 90 degree summer heat in Northern California. James and I were sitting outside of the Madelyn Helling County Library in Nevada City for 5 hours with very little shade. It was obviously too hot to be out because there were very few visitors to the library.
There were a couple of tricks that I used to alleviate heat. First, I tried to trick myself saying it’s not that hot — even though I wasn’t able to think much because of the heat. Second, I tried to be tough and stay focused. Neither of them worked. Eventually James got sunburn on his ankles and I stopped thinking. A librarian came out later and was surprised by our endurance.
Despite of unbearable heat, good bookmobilistas cann’t ignore their duties – talking to library users about the importance of the public domain, questioning copyright, access to knowledge and supporting public libraries.
Many library staff came out throughout the day and asked about the bookmobile, but overall it was a slow day. While we were talking up the public domain, a couple of librarians asked about how to verify whether or not a book was in the public domain. We were so proud that we bookmobilistas made library staff think about public domain issues and why librarians have to advocate for the public domain.
Later on, a few elderly people asked if we had large format books to print out and also asked how they could get acces to the digital books if they have little or no access to the internet. For people who live "out in the boondocks" (as a couple of people put it!) the public library IS the place to connect to the net and the library is the closest thing to ubiquity for many of us. The digital divide is still alive and well even in the United States.
We are in Orland, CA tonight and will visit Orland Free Library tomorrow. As of the 2000 census, Orland had a total population of 6,281. Interestingly, while we are coming into the town from the south, we noticed a big sign saying "Want a laugh? See the Orland City Council on YouTube!" and shortly afterwards a sign for "Orland City Council recall petitions available here." While we haven’t been able to verify what’s happening on the City Council, we DID find their videos on youtube. This is a great example of how a small town city council can use internet technologies to get the word out and inform their community.