NEW SERVICE - The Books on the Bus program, which connects transit riders with free reading material, is available on BOLT Transit buses in Lacombe and Blackfalds.                                photo submitted

NEW SERVICE - The Books on the Bus program, which connects transit riders with free reading material, is available on BOLT Transit buses in Lacombe and Blackfalds. photo submitted

Books on the Bus: now available on BOLT Transit

The pilot project provided reading materials on four City of Red Deer buses

Lacombe and District Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and Blackfalds FCSS have announced that the Books on the Bus program, which connects transit riders with free reading material, is available on BOLT Transit buses in Lacombe and Blackfalds.

The program was launched Thursday in conjunction with the unveiling of the Blackfalds Community Centre Expansion and the grand opening of the Blackfalds Parent Link Centre.

This new service is a partnership with Red Deer Transit, City of Lacombe, Town of Blackfalds, Lacombe and Blackfalds FCSS offices, the Mary C. Moore Library and the Blackfalds Public Library.

“We are excited to be a part of the innovative Books on the Bus program,” said Lacombe and District FCSS Executive Director Susan MacDonald.

“This is a great enhancement of our regional transit service and our community partnerships. We encourage everyone to enjoy the books and think of the program if you would like to donate gently used or new books.”

Initially a Small Acts Matter concept, the Books on the Bus program is the operationalization of a public education/awareness campaign designed to remind each of us about the importance of small acts in our daily lives and how they can support children, youth, families, seniors and communities.

“This is an exciting partnership that continues to grow and thrive,” said Town of Blackfalds FCSS Manager Sue Bornn.

“The Books on the Bus program on BOLT Transit is just another great example of how all of our communities benefit when we work together.”

The program began as a six-month pilot project in January 2016 providing free, new, and gently used paperback books for all ages of transit riders on four Red Deer Transit buses.

The City of Red Deer created a logo, tag line and promotional material that promoted the new project with the slogan ‘Take it. Read it. Share It’. This first of its kind project in Canada is currently being duplicated and explored in Medicine Hat, Banff, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Yellowknife.

“We look forward to putting books into the hands of people who do not visit a traditional brick-and- mortar library,” said Mary C. Moore Public Library Head Librarian Christina Petrisor. “No memberships, no overdue fees, just access to great free reading materials. What a great way to promote literacy!“

“Blackfalds Public Library is proud to collaborate with this community initiative,” said Blackfalds Public Library Head Librarian Carley Binder. “We love building relationships within the community and we love to share our enthusiasm for literacy. Books on the Bus is a fantastic way to bring our communities together and to share literacy.”

The pilot project provided reading materials (children’s books, graphic novels, and adult books) on four (increased to eight in May) City of Red Deer Transit buses, along with messaging about the importance of literacy and access to literacy materials. Poverty reduction research indicates that one of the strongest protective factors in guarding against adult poverty is the development of strong literacy skills in children.

“BOLT Transit is excited to collaborate with our respective community FCSS organizations and libraries to offer this program,” said City of Lacombe Community Economic Development Manager Guy Lapointe. “We hope it will continue to foster a love of reading and literature in our riders.”

Donated books for children, teens, and adults will be accepted at three locations in Lacombe: the Lacombe Mary C. Moore Library, the Lacombe Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex and at City Hall.

In Blackfalds, book donations will be accepted at the Blackfalds Public Library, the Blackfalds Multi-plex, and at the Abbey Centre.

Donations should be in good condition, and acceptable books include popular fiction and nonfiction for adults, children and youth.

Library staff will collect the books, sticker the inside and outside cover of the donated books and send them off to Red Deer Transit for restocking of the buses and bins.

The bins are filled on a regular basis for all riders to enjoy. Take it. Read it. Share it. Take a book from the free mini-library and enjoy reading during your commute, on your lunch break or anywhere you have time to read.

-Weber