Bells for Books is the mobile literacy program of the Garden City Library, funded entirely by donations and grants. Bells began in 1994 when Kate McMillan and Ruth Wright noticed children in our neighborhoods were lacking stimulus for reading during the summer. The kids lived too far and on unsafe streets to get to public libraries for books. With help from the Gem State Kiwanis Club, the two women loaded up a van with books, snacks, and volunteer readers, ringing a set of antique cow bells as they visited kids in Garden City neighborhoods. The program caught on and began to grow each summer.
In the fall of 1996, Ruth Wright donated the program to the Garden City Library Foundation. Bells for Books continued to evolve, working towards our mission, which is, “to ensure that every child in Garden City has access to Library books.”
The original van was replaced by a renovated school bus that was donated to the program.
Thanks to a generous donation in 2003 by the estate of the late Ruth Lormar, the Bells program purchased the beautifully equipped, blue bookmobile.
With a growing collection of more than 8,000 books, the Bells program is running stronger than ever. We circulated over 7,600 books last summer with over 5,800 visits by children and over 800 visits by adults. No library card is needed to check out books from the bookmobile. During the summer months, donated prizes, including new books and t-shirts, are given to boys and girls as incentives for returning all books. In recent years many teen and adult books have been added to the collection, as well as a large number of bilingual books, to help us better serve our community.