Do you have fond memories of visiting a public library during your childhood? Signing up for a library card and choosing your own books were a rite of passage. But for many kids right here in our community, going to the library isn’t an option or can’t happen all that often. Parents or caregivers might work long hours, lack transportation or face other barriers to making the trip.
That’s where the Dream Bus comes in. Madison Public Library partnered with Dane County Library Service to bring a mobile mini-library to those with such obstacles.
The Dream Bus offers library collections, exterior programming space and free Wi-Fi to five under-resourced neighborhoods weekly: Allied Drive, Leopold, Vera Court/Kennedy Heights, Reindahl Park and Park Edge/Park Ridge (near Elver Park). Staff circulate books, provide library cards, fulfill holds and host early childhood activities aboard the mobile library. The colorful, action-packed artwork that decorates the bus was created by Wisconsin artist Rodney Lambright II.
“We visited some schools, which was actually a really exciting part of the project,” said Library Assistant Amy Winkelman, who worked previously on the Dane County Bookmobile. “We came out when the bus was new and the shelves were all empty, so we had schools bring their classrooms out. One of my favorite parts when we were doing that was we also asked all the kids for suggestions, as we were purchasing some new books and filling up our collections … they wanted Dork Diaries, Star Wars books, books about dogs … so we dutifully wrote all those down and filled up the bus based on what kids want.”
The Dream Bus will operate solely on private support for its first four years, with a goal of Dane County and the City of Madison funding it thereafter. It was funded with a $263,000 lead gift from the Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Foundation. Additional support comes from Alliant Energy Foundation; The Evjue Foundation Inc., charitable arm of The Capital Times; Dick Goldberg; Madison Community Foundation; John Reindl; and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation. Multi-year support comes from Madison Public Library Foundation, Madison Public Library, Dane County Library Service and the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation.
The Dream Bus costs exceed $607,000. To make a contribution, visit our Donate page.
Visit madisonpubliclibrary.org to view the Dream Bus schedule.