12-year-old raises money for Sumter library bookmobile

Bookmobile is vital to community


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Lynzie Hodge is a reader and a book lover. Beyond that, the 12-year-old recognizes how reading has benefited her and what it can do for others.

Katie Hodge, Lynzie's mother, can hardly remember when her daughter wasn't reading.

"She started reading at 2, but even before that, when she was 1, she'd follow me around with a book, wanting me to read to her," Katie said. "After that, she started reading chapter books - and she hasn't stopped."

Among her favorite authors are JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter novels, Jules Verne, J.R.R. Tolkien, Suzanne Collins ("The Hunger Games"), "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" author Jeff Kinney and "a lot of other authors," Lynzie said. "I like to read fantasy, action, nonfiction, almost anything. I'll be reading a bunch" during the social isolation of COVID-19.

Lynzie is homeschooled and will be in eighth grade when the official school year starts. Her primary teacher, her mother, encourages her to read, and Lynzie has built her own library over the years.

"I have a collection of encyclopedias from the 1950s through the '80s," she said. "I've got 'Hidden Figures' (about three Black female mathematicians who were instrumental in the success of the U.S. space race). ... I also like the Lemony Snicket books."

During a trip to the Sumter County Library, Lynzie saw a notice about the efforts of the Friends of the Library to raise enough money to buy a new bookmobile. She immediately came up with a project to help out.

"I made a lot of paracord (bracelets) to sell," she said.

She explained that she braids different colors of parachute cords, which "hold up the parachute," and sold them.

"It ends up taking 9 feet of cord to make one bracelet," she said.

Sue Griffin, president of the Friends of the Sumter County Library, said through sales of the paracord bracelets Lynzie raised $380 for the fund to purchase a new, badly needed bookmobile. The current bookmobile, which, pre-pandemic, took books to readers across the county who often can't make it to the library, was "in service until the quarantine," Griffin said, "but there are a lot of repairs needed on it now. It goes to rural areas and nursing homes and some smaller schools.

"The cost of a new bookmobile is $160,000. We have raised almost half of that. We have gotten 56 donations from the public, large and small."

Griffin said the Friends are grateful for Lynzie's donation.

"Lynzie described herself as a book lover and said she would 'love to help the library in any way possible,'" and she came through, Griffin said. "It's also especially significant that such a dedicated and voracious reader at such a young age recognizes the importance of access to books at no cost."

Patrons often express their gratitude for the bookmobile's services. One of those patrons, Dee, wrote that she and her husband are "having medical issues, (so) it is difficult at times to get to the library for books or to return them after I have read them. So you and the bookmobile are a blessing for people in the rural area like us."

A worker at a county community center said the bookmobile is a vital aspect of the children's education.

"It allows the children to read a different book each day, and they are able to log them for their reading logs for school," she wrote.

A resident of Bassett Park apartments wrote that she "would be lost without the bookmobile" because she lacks transportation to go to the Main Library. "Please don't stop coming!"

Lynzie agreed that the bookmobile is vital to all ages of readers in the community. "I love books so, so much," she said. "It's great for people who live far from town.

"Reading is epic, awesome."

How to navigate the library during COVID-19

The Sumter County Library is closed; however, it is offering curbside service to patrons at the Main Library, 111 North Harvin St., and at the Wesmark branch, 180 W. Wesmark Boulevard.

Guidelines and ordering information below are from the library's website.

Reference services are available by phone and/or email.

The library has a fully staffed and knowledgeable reference department to assist with your information needs. The reference collection consists of a broad range of titles. The library also provides access to online databases.

In addition to on-site reference assistance, the staff is available by phone for brief reference questions or by email at sumref1@gmail.com.

General Guidelines

- You must have a valid library card.

- Pickup is only available at the Main Library and the Wesmark library. Pick up if not offered currently from the bookmobile or the South Sumter branch.

- Pickup is available from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays

- Pickup must be done at the branch that owns the item. Items cannot be sent between branches, and interlibrary loans are not currently available.

- You can only request five items per vehicle per pickup.

Requesting Items

Place a hold online by clicking the "Search the Catalog" button.

A library staff member will contact you to arrange a time for pickup when your request is ready.

Email your request to sumref1@gmail.com, and you will be contacted when your items are ready for pickup.

Include the following in your email:

- Your name as it appears on your library account;

- Your library card number;

- Your address and phone number; and

- The title and author of the book you are requesting.

Call the Main Library at (803) 773-7273 or the Wesmark library at (803) 469-8110. Have your library card and the title and author you would like to request ready.