After a month of taking the car apart, rewiring it, and putting it back together, LiLi (short for Library Live) was tricked out with an embedded, articulated 37 inch LCD TV; an Xbox, computer monitor, gadget bar, two 3G Internet-connected laptops; and, yes, external speakers. “They’re not held on with suction cups,” Miller laughed. She even has a few books on board, donated by First Book Canada, but they’re not for loaning, they’re for giving away.
LiLi and Miller started Library Live and On Tour! On April 25, and already they’re booked solid. Their dual mission combines traditional PR venues (parades, festivals, etc.), where Miller preaches the message that today’s library is anything but stodgy, with what she calls “the quieter heart”: delivering library services to marginalized populations at food banks, soup kitchens, transition houses, etc. She registers people for library cards, forgives fines ($1000 so far), teaches senior citizens how to use technology, and so on. The key, she says, is to have a conversation rather than delivering a dissertation, and to meet people where they are – literally as well as figuratively. “I’ve issued kids’ first library cards while their mothers are in line at the food bank,” she says.