BRTC’s Serendipity opens new year with special guest, mobile library project

BRTC’s Serendipity program opened its 18th year with a guest speaker Ashley Ziegler, award-winning Library Media Specialist of Riverside Public Schools. The Mobile Library project to widen access to books which launched earlier this summer dovetails with Serendipity’s opening book, The Giver of Stars, a work of historical fiction centering on the Depression era “Packhorse Librarians” of Kentucky. In the book, five women brave hardships to heed the call of Eleanor Roosevelt to  “bring books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.”

The novel, written by JoJo Moyes, focuses on an actual New Deal project, while Riverside’s “Words on Wheels” is an effort by Riverside Public School to increase the students’ and local community’s access to books and materials from birth to adult.  It also serves as a makerspace area that offers activities geared towards science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) education.

The mobile library was created through the collaboration of Riverside Superintendent Jeff Priest, High School Principal Matt Ziegler, Library Media Specialist Ashley Ziegler, IT Director Shaun Foster, and the Maintenance Department composed of Chris Snyder, Michael Adams, and Tyler Bounds. Gibson’s Sign Mart installed the vinyl wrap on the bus. In its initial months of operation, the mobile library has proved popular to young and old in the rural Craighead County communities.

Serendipity is a lifelong learning project designed to ensure those served by BRTC to have opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of their culture and environment.  Through monthly book readings and discussion, the organization is designed to encourage civic engagement in a diverse, multicultural society and globally connected world.

“We so appreciate Ashley’s willingness to share the Riverside mobile library with us,” said Serendipity facilitator Dr. Jan Ziegler.  “She has received statewide recognition and a well-deserved award from the Arkansas Literacy Council for her dream and her vision and her work to make this a reality.”

Find more information about the mobile library project, as well as future programming and engagements on the mobile library’s Facebook page: @RiversideMobileLibrary.

Next month’s Serendipity will feature another special guest, author Adele Holmes. An Arkansas native and retired pediatrician, she will speak about and read from her debut release Winter’s Reckoning, a recently released book which is already receiving high acclaim.  One critic writes, “Set in the brooding rural South, and for a good portion of the novel in the challenging and crystalline world of a deep snowstorm,  Winter’s Reckoning  is rich in storyline and character with plenty of mystery woven throughout. Simply put, here’s a story that takes on issues whose harm remains with us today.” Pre-publication her book won Honorable Mention in the William Faulkner Literary Competition and was short-listed for the Chanticleer International Book Awards-Goethe Award.

For more information about BRTC’s Serendipity program, contact Patti Blaxton at (870) 248-4181 or