Berkeley is preparing to close the Claremont and North branch libraries for a year in order to remodel them and improve their seismic safety and disabled access. So what are library junkies expected to do?

Take a look at the new mobile branch library, known in another era as a bookmobile. Now it’s called a BranchVan. It’s idle now, but starting in the spring it will be shifting back and forth to the neighborhoods around the Claremont and North branches. Library patrons will be able to go online, put books on hold, and visit the van to pick them up; return books, and take out books displayed in the van.

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...