‘Ms. Bookmobile’ Debbie Sells retiring after 42 years of delivering good reads

Posted April 7, 2021 at 11:59 am

Debbie Bookmobile.psd

Clinton County will see a change within the Clinton County Public Library after April 1, 2021.

No longer will Deborah Sells be behind the wheel of the book mobile.

After 42 years of delivering books to kids and adults to remote locations of the county, she decided to hang up her keys and pass it on to the next generation.

Sells said that two former Clinton County Librarians, Elizabeth Upchurch and Gayla Duvall, were both huge influences during her career as the Clinton County Library Bookmobile operator

“Elizabeth kind of got me into this. I never thought I would have lasted this long,” Sells said. “I’ve taken books to older people and to kids and a lot of those kids have kids now. I still love what I do, but it’s time I quit and retire.”

Sells said she has prayed over the decision to step away from driving the bookmobile and said, with her mother being sick, she felt like it was the right thing to do.

“I will miss the people,” Sells said. “I’ve made friends who are like family. I’ve went to people so long they do feel like family. I’ve went through births and deaths with them and all kinds with them. They’ve went through those things with me.”

Sells said she will miss seeing all the kids and the older people she has taken books to for more than four decades.

“I don’t know if I can stand it or not,” Sells said.

During Sells’ 42 years behind the wheel of the bookmobile, she has had four different vehicles and during that time she said she was fortunate enough to have had only one wreck and that wreck wasn’t her fault.

“I know when Elizabeth brought the bookmobile to me she told me I could do this,” Sells said. “I said I didn’t know if I could drive this big vehicle, but I’ve had four book mobiles over the years.”

Sells said she helped design the wrap that covers the newest bookmobile. She put things on it which meant a great deal to her and everyone in her life.

“Gayla said for me to do what I wanted to do, so I did,” Sells said. “The water is supposed to be 76 Falls, the trees are from ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’ which is my favorite book and that’s the story I read every summer. That’s the book the little girl is holding in her hand.”

There were also several other books she incorporated in the design to reflect the favorite books of past librarians at the Clinton County Public Library.

“I’m really proud of the design,” Sells said.

Over the years, Sells said she has tried to offer a variety on her truck.

“I have access to anything the library has and I’ve tried to trade them out to keep the collection fresh,” Sells said. “I check books out from the library and I try to choose what I think people will read. Sometimes one person might get 100 books every three weeks.”

Sells said many of the people she checked out books for are not able to get out of their home, so she would get books for them and deliver them to their homes.

“COVID has changed that so much,” Sells said. “When I was on the road, people couldn’t come into the truck, so I would choose everything and bag it up and take it to their door. I thought this time has kind of weened me away from them and them away from me, so I thought this would be good time to go.”

Not only did Sells deliver books to people, but she said she would also do story time for kids at day cares and she would also do story time at the nursing home as well.

“I would go in and read to them and I enjoyed that a lot,” Sells said. “Sometimes you thought they weren’t paying attention. One time this one lady who I thought was asleep and not paying attention, raised up and started singing a song that went along with a poem we were reading.”

Sells said she has seen kids in places who remembered her and would ask how she was doing.

“They call me BookMobile because they think that’s my name, which is fine,” Sells said. “There are a lot of good memories.”

Sells said after her final day she plans on seeing her grandkids more and staying busy.

“I can’t be one of those people who just quits doing things when they retire,” Sells said. “That’s not for me.”