Bells for Books


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 states, “Bells for Books is committed to helping children and families by promoting reading and literacy.” The original van was replaced by a renovated school bus that was donated to the program.

In the spring of 2001, Garden City Boys and Girls Club moved to a new building and Bells was invited to establish a library at the Club called The Annex. It is a year-round library equipped with hundreds of fun books for members of the Boys and Girls Club to check out and read.  Thanks to a generous donation in 2003 by the estate of the late Ruth Lormar, the Bells program purchased the beautifully equipped, blue bookmobile shown below. With a growing collection of more than 8,000 books, nutritious snacks donated, and new teams of teen volunteers, the Bells program is running stronger than ever. We circulated over 5,200 books last summer with over 2,300 visits by children and over 300 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.  

Cleaning out the kids bookshelves? Recycle those used books by donating them to the Bells Program. Volunteers are also needed for reading stories and assisting the bookmobile librarians during the summer months and on school-day afternoons during the winter and spring. Please leave a message at the Garden City Library Bells for Books office 472-2948. Our part-time staff will check messages weekly.

Bells for Books Garden City Public Library, 6015 Glenwood Street Garden City, Idaho 83714 

Bells for Books Coordinator (208) 472-2948 bells@gardencitylibrary.org 

Sponsored by:  St. Mary's Food Bank, Idaho Food Bank, Bank of Cascades, Idaho Humanities Council, Idaho PowerBoise, Inc Foundation, Whittenberger Foundation, OfficeMax Boise, Community Fund Thomas H and Mildred R Allen Foundation, Inc

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Last updated: February 24, 2014 - 3:59pm by GCPLstaff