By Teri Vance
There was a certain energy in the air, an excitement swirling among the 15 students spanning the grades from kindergarten through eighth in the isolated, one-room schoolhouse in Ruby Valley.
It wasn’t just that the sun was finally shining — glistening off the wind-polished snow that stretched for miles — on this day in late March after a long, seemingly relentless winter.
There was something else. The Bookmobile was finally coming.
The Bookmobile, a semi-truck modified to house shelves of library books, visits schools and other institutions in rural Elko County on a two-week schedule.
This visit, however, was delayed by two months as the Bookmobile was undergoing repairs.
“These guys are in desperate need of books,” said teacher Traci Wines. “They’ve been reading everything they can get their hands on for months.”
The children live in the ranching community more than an hour from the nearest town of Elko, best known as “Home of Cowboy Poetry.”
The students are mostly drawn to books they can relate to.
“I like cowboy books,” said Bill Gardner, 9. “Because I am a cowboy.”
Another 10-year-old chooses books about horses.
“I’ve lived on ranches my entire life,” she said. “Everywhere I go, there are horses. So, I’ve learned to love them.”
But it’s not exclusively agriculture-related literature that piques their attention.
“I love to cook,” said Madison Dahl, 11, who checked out “Sally’s Candy Addiction” cookbook. “I cook with my mom.”
Three Bookmobiles throughout Nevada deliver library services to some of the most isolated places in Elko, Lander, Eureka, Humboldt and Lincoln counties, covering 52,374 square miles.
“Nevada is one of the most geographically remote places in the country,” said Cyndi O, director of the Nevada Library Cooperative. “For these folks, the Bookmobile is literally a lifeline. They get access to the newest books, laptops, Wi-Fi, and even classes and programming.”
Partial funding to continue Bookmobile services came through the 2017 Legislature, which allocated $500,000 to Nevada libraries. The one-time allocation of money was used over the last biennium for collection development, Bookmobile services, statewide databases and emerging technology.
In his State of the State address, Gov. Steve Sisolak proposed $420,000 in permanent funding. The Nevada Library Association is asking to make that $1.5 million.
Afton Sampson, 12, a sixth-grader at Ruby Valley School, has been known to check out more books than she can carry back to the classroom.
“I really love reading,” she explained. The stack may last her until the Bookmobile’s next visit, but it may not.
“Maybe only one week, maybe two. It depends on how much time I have.”
Editor’s note: This is the latest in a series of articles to highlight library programs funded by the Nevada Legislature. The Nevada Library Association is asking for permanent funding in this year’s legislative session.