Library on wheels brings books and pleasure to village residents

It’s always a pleasure to thumb a volume by your favourite writer, to find an interesting story or ‘discover’ a new author. However, it’s harder to gain access to books when you live in a small village, without a library or bookshop. Accordingly, mobile libraries are now operational in most districts, bringing reading to even the smallest settlements. But are they in demand?
By Irina Kosenkova

To see how well the system is working, we joined the library bus on its journey through the Brest Region’s Malorita District. The ‘house-reading hall’ — as some call it — has been operational for nearly two years, serving almost 300 villagers. The bus covers ten routes, involving 21 villages. 

“District residents know all about us, eagerly anticipating the arrival of new books, following the bus schedule,” notes the Director of the Centralised Library System in the Malorita District, Nadezhda Kurdyuk. “We were cautious at first, visiting people’s houses with local librarians to chat about books but also to create a rapport of trust; some simply want someone to listen and offer support.”

The mobile library visits each village once a month but comes to Nikolskoe and Sushitnitsa twice monthly — at the request of residents, carrying 2,000 books. Our first stop is Sushitnitsa, where around 400 people live. Around 20 percent borrow books regularly. As we enter, new brick houses are evident, alongside clean streets and yards. Nothing looks dilapidated. The bus stops by the local shop, where people are already waiting for our arrival. Librarian Yulia Kuchina takes out the most popular books: detective and love stories, children’s books and Orthodox literature.

“Books for children are expensive but they are always seeking new stories,” smiles Tatiana Demchuk, choosing books jointly with her daughter Sofia. “It’s wonderful to have the chance to borrow books for a while.”

Alongside young readers, elderly people like to visit the mobile library. Konstantin Goloviychuk is around 70 but is a regular reader. He has a list of books today, telling us, “I’ve read more books from the bus than anyone else. Of course, I can’t always find a book I’m after but the librarians then try to find it for me for their next visit. I love to re-read old Soviet literature, as well as books on the theme of war or politics. I also like detective stories. I’ll take a couple of new books now, to read in the evening.”

“I’ve been coming here since the bus first began — choosing interesting fairy-tales and magazines for myself and my brother,” says Kristina Zakharchuk, 8, with pride. “It’s nice to have this library, as we don’t always borrow books from our school, in neighbouring Khotislav. It would be too boring in summer without books.”

The bus spends just over an hour in the village, welcoming 20 people — mostly children and the elderly. Some take books for relatives while others let the librarians know who else is due to drop in that day. As it leaves the village, the bus stops twice, to allow the librarians to visit some elderly residents at home. Truly, the Malorita librarians take care of their readers.
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