A Library on Wheels
Saeed Damadi doesn’t just drive a school bus.
He operates a library on wheels.
For seven years, Damadi has driven elementary, middle and high school routes as an MCPS bus operator out of the Clarksburg Depot. A native of Iran, Damadi has a master’s degree in library science and taught the subject at a university back home.
At the beginning of the school year, he had a novel idea. He planned to create a library on his school bus, which would encourage kids to read and keep them safe in their seats to and from school. He named it the Magic School Bus Library. He visited a public library and purchased about 30 books, which he kept in a basket on the bus. He allowed the students who rode his bus to pick a book. They could read it on the bus or keep it for up to a week and return it for the next student. His basket holds books for all ages, fiction and nonfiction for all reading levels. The heaviest users are elementary school students.
“The kids loved it,” he said with pride. “Some of them ask me if they can keep the books they are reading and I always let them.”
When his book supply began running low, he contacted the Division of School Library Media Programs to see if they could help.
“He told us what he was doing,” said Margaret Gaudino, a coordinator in school library media programs. “We go out to elementary schools and help reorganize their libraries by evaluating their collection and weeding out materials they no longer need, or have multiple copies of. We try to redistribute them throughout the county.”
When they heard about Damadi’s on-board bookmobile, they began giving him the books. “It’s hard to get rid of a book that you know is good quality and in good condition,” Guadino said. “When we get to redistribute, especially to our children, we do it. We love it! … I actually have six more boxes for him right now,” Gaudino said with a laugh.
Damadi’s bus is also adorned with pictures and short stories from the children he drives. Many of them illustrate the rules of riding the school bus or their experiences on the bus. “Some of them are amazing,” he says.
“I love what I do,” he says. The students “make my life happier every day.”