MANKATO — Nine months into a new effort to provide a library-in-your-mailbox service to rural residents, the Blue Earth County Library is making another attempt to promote the program that serves as the replacement for the traditional bookmobile that previously motored across the county every two weeks.
It's free, it's easy, it's relatively fast and Library Director Tim Hayes isn't sure why the mail-based alternative isn't more popular.
"It's kind of gotten off to a little bit of a slow start," Hayes said. "We just wanted to remind people that it's out there."
The service is available anywhere in the county that doesn't have a public library. Essentially, that means anyone not living in Mankato, Mapleton or Lake Crystal. Residents of those cities are expected to make their way to their branch library, but any other county resident can request a book, magazine, DVD or other library item by phone or online and it will be mailed to their home.
Along with the book comes a postage-paid envelope to use when returning the item.
Hayes said the system has worked well for the people who have tried it, and those people tend to be repeat patrons. Word of mouth also is helping it to grow.
Still, he thinks there are many people, including teens and other younger readers on farms and in small towns, who would love the service if they gave it a shot.
"It's that first leap of faith (that's required)," Hayes said.
The only other thing that's required is a library card, and Hayes said even that can be obtained over the phone or online.
The mail service is one of two approaches the county has implemented since dropping bookmobile service, which the county had contracted with the North Mankato Taylor Library to provide bi-weekly to towns such as Madison Lake, St. Clair, Garden City, Good Thunder, Vernon Center, Pemberton and Amboy.