For the Queens Public Library’s (QPL) first-ever Wellness Tour, their Mobile Library is hitting the roads of the Rockaways and southeast Queens to provide local residents with free access to information and resources about good health and self-care amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — with a focus on Queens neighborhoods where vaccination rates remain low.
QPL’s bookmobile program takes library service to the streets, bringing books and activities to all neighborhoods across the borough. The Mobile Library stops at everything from community events to senior care homes.
“We know that Queens Public Library is a trusted community organization that provides information, and so we wanted to really get information out about vaccinations to the community,” said Kim McNeil-Capers, QPL’s director of community engagement.
The tour, which began in late September, will officially kick off on Wednesday, Oct. 13, during an event organized in partnership with the Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability and Equity (RISE), a nonprofit serving the Rockaway community. RISE will be distributing information on the COVID-19 vaccination as part of its VAX UP! Campaign. The event will be at the Beach 60th St.-Straiton Ave. A train stop in Arverne from 2 to 5 p.m.
QPL President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott will welcome members of the public, and the QPL Outreach Team and a QPL medical librarian will be aboard the bus to answer customers’ questions and guide them through a special collection of books and other materials to help them stay well or get well.
Customers will be able to sign up for a library card, return borrowed items, use the Mobile Library’s WiFi and listen to live classical music performed by violinist Brian L. Thompson from the activist orchestra The Dream Unfinished.
The tour is part of QPL’s work to help Queens residents cope with various health issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout the fall, each Wednesday afternoon until Nov. 17, QPL Mobile Library will make stops in Queens neighborhoods where vaccination rates remain low, including Far Rockaway, Rockaway Park, Cambria Heights, Queens Village, Howard Beach and Jamaica, among others.
Stops on the tour include parks, laundromats, transportation hubs and other locations where foot traffic is high.
“Most importantly, it’s about being immersed in the community where people are, which is why we’re near laundromats, parks and beaches, subway hubs and train stations,” McNeil-Capers said. “The goal is to reach folks who don’t normally go to the library and get them correct information about vaccines and wellness.”
While this Wellness Tour is focused primarily on providing facts and information about vaccines, there are other important initiatives the library will incorporate and promote.
At each stop, QPL will be distributing giveaways, bookmarks with facts about COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination locations, as well as information about the Go Vote campaign and the Say Goodbye to Late Fines policy. The Go Vote campaign encourages people to participate in the upcoming elections, and Say Goodbye to Late Fines eliminates all late fines to make the library’s resources accessible to everyone regardless of their circumstance.
“I think [QPL] just felt compelled to do more, and to do more, we needed to step outside of the physical space and step into the community,” McNeil-Capers said. “Not everyone is going to the library and so sometimes we have to go to them.”
To schedule a bookmobile visit in your neighborhood or at your community event, apply online.