Donna Christian, driver, and Barb Kerns during a recent stop at Kerns' home on Cranston Road.

Scarlett O’Hara, Jesse James, Harry Potter, Mary Todd Lincoln and joltin’ Joe DiMaggio were just a few of the visitors arriving at Barb Kerns’ home between breakfast and lunch last Monday morning.

And as the colorful cast of characters pulled into her driveway, courtesy of the Rowan County Bookmobile, Kerns was already on her way to greet them.

“This service has helped my entire family for years,” Kerns told The Morehead News while driver Donna Christian helps record the day’s selections. “Whenever the bookmobile would pull up it was always a big event at our house. There was a time after each visit that it would be real quiet at the house as they kids would go off into four different directions and go read. And the bookmobile had to contribute to the fact they were all very good students.”

Kerns’ kids are all grown and have moved out by her love of books -- and reading -- is as just as passionate as ever. Kerns, who lives off Cranston, has been boarding the vehicle packed with volumes since the early 1960s.

And how many books has she read in the past 40-plus years?

“Over those many years, oh my goodness, I’ve gone through thousands,” she said. “There was a time I’d read everything they brought out.”

On this particular morning, Kerns and Christian are sharing their usual early-morning chat while the big white van is parked in the driveway. Christian makes nearly 120 different stops on her route in a two-week span.

“We really do try to cover it all,” Christian said when asked about the different items the Rowan County Bookmobile provides. “The variety -- we have fiction, best sellers, large-print, easy readers, magazines -- you name it. I can even bring them audios, too. We try to get whatever the readers request.”

The easy-access vehicle is well lit and boasts a wide aisle between several shelves all packed with the pages of thousands of books. Readers board then browse while Christian completes any paperwork; recording the items leaving the bus and checking back in those being returned. And in quite a contrast to items checked out from the local library, Christian said the bookmobile has few -- if any -- lost, stolen or late returns.

“I don’t have any problems like that,” she said. “These patrons really enjoy this service and they always return what they check out.”

While the local bookmobile already provides its cargo to many readers in Rowan County, Kerns said she would like to see even more take advantage of this ‘wonderful’ opportunity.

“I hope people read this story and it encourages them to use the bookmobile,” Kerns said, her arms wrapped around a pile of books that would make Joseph Beth drool. “Using the bookmobile becomes a part of your life -- and it’s been a wonderful part of mine.”

For more information on the Rowan County Public Library, or to find out more about the bookmobile, call 784-7137.

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