The leaders of the Books2Keep Bookmobile initiative in Cobb County are the recipients of an award for providing exemplary library outreach services to children and students in the community.

Cobb County Public Library Community Engagement Manager Mary Wood and Library Media Specialist Sandra Davis of the Cobb County School District are the recipients of the Preschool Outreach and School Services Inspirations Award, sponsored by the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS). The honor is in recognition of their successful efforts to develop the Books2Keep campaign to collect and redistribute gently used books from affluent areas of Cobb to underserved communities.

The Cobb Library Bookmobile team also includes Community Engagement Librarian II Allyson Eads and Katherine Zavala, Library Assistant III. The Bookmobile team works strategically to provide access to school learning materials during school breaks of the Cobb County and Marietta City school districts to children and families in areas where transportation, internet access and language barriers isolate children and caregivers from community support systems.

Books2Keep’s success is built on a foundation of community collaboration and teamwork which allows the initiative to operate efficiently, according to a media release by ABOS.

“In order to acquire materials to distribute, individual schools in Cobb County School District hosted successful book donation drives in the Spring of 2021,” according to the ABOS statement. “Once the books were collected, Media Specialists and the Library Bookmobile team began sorting through the materials grouping them by reading level. Sandra surveyed Media Specialists to allow them to nominate their school’s surrounding neighborhoods to be selected as locations for the Books2Keep stops over summer break.

“With the feedback from Media Specialists and their understanding of under-resourced communities in Cobb, the bookmobile team began contacting parks, apartment leasing offices, mobile home communities, and churches to schedule Books2Keep Bookmobile visits. School staff were invited to meet Bookmobile staff onsite to help readers find their ‘just right’ books for the summer. While on site, schools and library staff answered questions from caregivers about nearby schools and registered families for summer reading. In 2021, Cobb-Marietta Books2Keep was able to distribute 5,686 books to families and children throughout the community.”

The Books2Keep project involved 376 staff and volunteer hours. Due to support from generous Cobb families, both organizations are planning for Books2Keep 2023.

The Preschool Outreach and School Services Inspirations Award was presented October 5 at the Awards Ceremony during the 2022 Conference of the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services in Scottsdale, Arizona.