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Mobile Library Services

About The Library

ACLA Mobile Library Services is on the road each day to provide support service to enhance and expand the rich library resources available in Allegheny County. We provide the services that a library building provides, in a personalized environment, at a location accessible to customers who otherwise may not be able to use a library, and we have been doing it for 50 years.

Our Mission

The ACLA Bookmobile Center provides library service to unserved or underserved residents of Allegheny County where bookmobiles are the most appropriate service. Our goal is to:
  • Provide library materials and services to those that cannot take advantage of a library building.

  • Ensure that all library patrons have access to the resources and types and levels of service outlined in the service guidelines of the Allegheny County Library Association.

  • Offer people, isolated by distance, poverty, or lack of transport or education and individuals who cannot reach the library due to youth or old age, the same access to resources provided by public money.

  • Our History

    Old Bookmobile

      Bookmobiles first started providing service in Allegheny County in 1952. The program started out of the Carnegie of Pittsburgh Library in Oakland, providing City Service with 2 vehicles throughout the city. Branches were located in some of the sites visited by the City Bookmobile, ultimately leading to the demise of the City Service.

      In the late 1950's, the Allegheny County Government wanted to pay for library services in the county, and ultimately funded additional bookmobile service throughout the county, using 3 vehicles. The success of the program led to the development of stationary libraries in many communities around the county.

      In the mid 1960's, the bookmobile service was relocated to the West End, next to the West End Branch. Facilities were built specifically for the needs of the collection, staff and vehicles. At this time, all service was outside of the City of Pittsburgh, and the access to major roads made the West End a better hub than Oakland.

      In the early 1990's, general library service to public housing sites throughout the Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. As with all bookmobile service, service to these communities were phased out as library outlets opened. As the libraries in the county strengthened and proliferated, other forms of bookmobile service were added. First added was direct service to Head Start programs outside the City of Pittsburgh. The monthly service consisted of a storyhour and a visit on the bookmobile. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, with the support of the AIU, applied for and won a grant to purchase a bookmobile designed specifically for preschool service. The program now visits over 40 sites per month.

      Senior services were the next specialty service added in the mid 1990's. Starting out as deposit collections to senior facilities around the county, a grant was applied for and won for a grant to purchase a bookmobile designed specifically for senior service. While waiting for the vehicle to be ordered and built, a bookmobile used previously for general service was used to visit nearly 20 sites on a monthly schedule. The bookmobile, designed for senior citizen access, was put into service in 2002. An extremely low floor (ELF) vehicle, the new bookmobile has a ramp and shallow steps to allow access to a range of physical abilities ranging from walkers to wheelchairs. This service has expanded to nearly 40 sites, including senior centers, senior high- rises, independent and assisted living facilities.

      In 2001, the County announced it would no longer be able to fund the bookmobile. Throughout 2001-2002, alternative sources of funding were explored, with the Regional Asset District and Citizen's Bank being the main support in 2002-2003. Beginning in 2003, the running bookmobile service was taken over from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh by the Allegheny County Library Association. General library service by the bookmobile to local communities became fee-based, and 7 stops were funded. The remaining 15 stops from the general library routes were cancelled.

      The mission of providing direct library service to unserved and underserved communities in Allegheny County continues to today. Fee-based service remains a viable aspect of the Mobile Library Services, while the main focus is directed to the special, niche services to preschools, Head Start programs and senior citizens.


      Just as the character of library service is changing throughout the country and throughout the county, the ACLA Mobile Library Services recognizes the importance to change with and in anticipation of the needs of its service community. Thus the ACLA Mobile Library Services recognizes the advances made in library service to the geographically unserved residents of Allegheny County through improved and expanded local library services. By continuing to focus more bookmobile resources on residents with special service needs, and working with local libraries to provide support as local service expands into new areas, ACLA Mobile Library Services will continue its charge to provide for unserved and underserved members of our community. More than ever, the ACLA Mobile Library Services will be a complimentary and enhancing aspect of library service in the County, while providing the vehicle for reaching those unreachable by libraries without the luxury of wheels.

      Currently the ACLA Mobile Library Services provides three kinds of service:
    • General community service: Paid service, contracted for by local community government, local public libraries and school districts
    • Preschool/Head Start service: Free service to mainly low-income preschool and daycare facilities. Special emphasis on Head Start Programs in Allegheny County, but not in the City of Pittsburgh
    • Senior service: Free service to senior centers, senior high-rises, independent living, and assisted living facilities throughout Allegheny County

      Niche services currently under development:
    • Special needs adults: Pilot program currently functioning under wing of the Senior Service, with added programming from the Preschool Service
    • Adult day care:
    • Special needs children of preschool age: Cooperative program with the DART and Easter Seals programs

      The addition, maintenance and discontinuation of services in each of the service areas are determined by specific parameters. Additionally, to ensure full cooperation of local service libraries, new stop worksheets are required for all new stops.

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    1301 Beaver Ave | Pittsburgh, PA 15233
    | Maintained by: Chuck Arrigo | Last updated: 01/04/12