Inside a Rochester Hills service garage, a big, blue bus is waiting to make its debut.
It's the newest addition — a second Bookmobile. Already, the library's Bookmobile outreach program is wildly popular; last year the Bookmobile saw 86,000 visitors and library director Christine Hage said it's the busiest of its kind in the state.
That original Bookmobile includes a little something for everyone, from birth to seniors.
This new one, which librarians affectionately refer to as "Big Blue," will have a more narrow focus. It will be stocked with books, CDs, puppets and story kits that target children from birth to age 5. The emphasis on early literacy is a niche focus for the library.
"There are a lot of services for those with special needs, but not many for everyday preschoolers," Hage said. "Children are such sponges, it's important they get exposure to literature from an early age. Our goal is to help get kids ready to read, because kids who read succeed."
Big Blue will make stops at the ' Head Start program and at licensed daycare centers in Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township. Hage is hopeful it will be in service Feb. 1, and a schedule is in the works.
The library purchased Big Blue for $21,000 from the Willard Public Library in Battle Creek.
"They weren't having great success with their Bookmobile program there, and then their driver retired," said Hage.
The new Bookmobile is getting tuned up and painted inside a garage at the Rochester Hills Public Works Department.
Soon, it will be stocked with $10,000 in new materials, part of a gift from the Charles and Doris Edie family. Doris Edie was a "much beloved library volunteer" who passed away last year, Hage said. The family's name will be painted on the back of the bus.
For more about the library's Bookmobile program, visit the library's website.