Expect Toronto's newest library bus to be packed with technology as well as books

The Toronto Public Library is putting the finishing touches on its newest asset — a technology-filled branch on wheels.

The latest bookmobile will hit the road in May

The Toronto Public Library will put its new bookmobile on the streets in May. (Toronto Public Library)
  The Toronto Public Library is putting the finishing touches on its newest asset — a technology-filled branch on wheels. 

The city's Library Board will be updated on Tuesday about the state of a new bookmobile that will be hitting the streets later this year.   

"The bookmobile provides service to some of the city's most vulnerable and isolated residents." city librarian Vickery Bowles told CBC Toronto Monday in an interview.

Bringing books to refugees

Bowles says the rolling branch played an important role last year in helping Syrian refugees when they were temporarily housed in hotels.

City librarian Vickery Bowles says Toronto residents rely on the library for access to technology as much as they do books. (Shawn Benjamin/CBC)

"The bookmobile visited regularly to those hotels and got people library cards and books to those families when they were just getting settled in Canada. The bookmobile is also able to reach people who lack mobility due to age, illness or some kind of socio-economic or linguistic barriers."

Technology on wheels

Right now there are two bookmobiles that visit apartment buildings, community centres, and even shelters in areas of Toronto where there isn't easy access to a library branch. The new $300,000 bookmobile will serve as a replacement vehicle and for the first time, it will be equipped with free Wi-Fi, large computer screens and tablets.

Coun. Sarah Doucette, who sits on the library board, says Torontonians will make good use of the new vehicle.

  "People come to our libraries quite frequently to do job searches, to research, so having that accessible through a bookmobile will be amazing, and just get these services out to more people."
The first Toronto-area bookmobile launched in 1948, according to the public library. (Toronto Public Library)

The first chapter in Toronto's bookmobile history began in 1948, according to the Toronto Public Library's website. The city's first mobile library looked a lot like a bread truck.

  The new nine-metre bookmobile resembles a camper wrapped in bright photographs. It's slated to start running in May.