Book Mobiles

Good News and Bad Face Nation's Bookmobiles

The Curmudgeony Librarian writes "The news for bookmobiles runs hot and cold this week as a new service launches and another may be saved from cuts, while still others face the budget chopping block. There is good news in Rochester Hills Michgain, and Seattle Washington, bad news in Utica, New York and Winchester, Virginia.

In Rochester Hills, Michgain, bookmobile service for the Rochester Hills Public Library is set to begin in the next few weeks as soon as a driver is found. The decision to create the service was made after years of debate wither to open a library branch or create a mobile service. The bookmobile will will carry over 3,000 items and serve Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township in Michgain.

In Seattle, Washington, the City Council's budget committee restored funding for many of the health and human services cuts in the proposed 2005 budget. These restored service include partial restoration of Seattle Public Library's bookmobile rounds.

In Utica, New York, the Mid-York Library System Bookmobile will stop running after more than 40 years of service. The bookmobile was cancelled due to dropping ciculation numbers which fell from 60,000 in the 1970s to 21,000 today. Rising costs for the service were also cited as a factor. Many bookmobile patrons expressed dismay at the closing. The library will offer 24 hour patron access to it's catalog via the internet.

In Winchester Virginia, the Handley Regional Library has halted bookmobile service to plug a massive budget gap caused by state funding shortfalls. Citing low circulation, an inability to locate qualified drivers, and the aformentioned budget gap the library's Board of Directors unanimously recommend dropping the bookmobile from its budget. The library is considering additional ways to save money including other alternatives to the bookmobile and outright sale of the vehicle. Even with these measures, the library is still facing a severe budget gap of over $100,000. "Unless we can get the state to go to full funding, I don’t think this will get better," said Library Director Trish Ridgeway."


Bookmobile Service Returns to Alabama County

The Curmudgeony Librarian writes "The people of Elmore County Alabama have reason to celebrate with the return of bookmobile service to the county. After more than six years, the patrons of the Horseshoe Bend Regional Library again have bookmobile service. The reintroduced service was funded by a $500 check given by county officials. The service is expected to reach rural communities throughout Elmore County."


Reversal of Fortune On the Way for Seattle Bookmobile?

LISNews reporter Rochelle informed us back in September about funds being cut for the Seattle PL, including the bookmobile . City residents complained bitterly about this, and a Seattle journalist, Robert L. Jamieson Jr. mentioned it in his column.

Now it looks as if the Mayor is proposing a restoration of funds for the bookmobile...see paragraph nine (Council action...) in this article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer. Although the City Council hasn't yet voted funding back to the bookmobile program, it is on the agenda for later this week.


Rural Ireland Missing Its "Mobile"

Residents of county Mayo are missing their bookmobile. It's in the shop, becoming wheelchair accessible, but in the meantime, those who cannot get to the library have no way to peruse the books. They're particularly concerned that since more 'static' libraries have opened, the bookmobile may be on its way out.

Lots of lovely Irish names in this little story from Western People , you can almost imagine them tripping off the tongue of Frank McCourt.


"Pray for the Bookmobile" Seattle Patron Pleads

Here's a column by Robert L. Jamieson Jr. following up on a story reported here at LISNews on September 26 about cuts to the Seattle Public Library budget.


Jamieson urges Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels to "drop by the Life Care Center on Southwest Admiral Way, where sick and elderly residents relish simple pleasures.

The mayor could then look nursing home resident Loretta Stone in the eye and tell her about his plan to kill the bookmobile.

That news stunned Stone so much that she raised her hand in desperation during a church service Sunday. "Say a prayer for the bookmobile," she cried. "It's my whole life."

The 56-year-old woman has cerebral palsy. She uses a wheelchair. She vows to fight for the bookmobile, which gives her and so many others a link to the outside world. "I know the bookmobile costs money," Stone told me. "But just look at the happiness it gives people ... this will break my heart."


Books for Children Who Have Never Had a Book

A wonderful program instituted by Anywhere Books (a US-based nonprofit dedicated to deploying mobile print on demand solutions for developing countries) and supported by the World Bank has outfitted a special bookmobile to travel around the countryside of Uganda, where the children can board, choose a title (out of a databank of 20,000), and get to print and bind their very own copy of a book to keep. Ordinarily, there is one textbook for every six kids in Uganda, and most of the lessons consists of drill and repeat.

The bookmobile traveled three days per week from Kampala to the Buikwe region in southern Uganda and regularly visited several of the 25 schools in the area. Librarians worked with the kids to print their own books. Popular titles included Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Rabbit and stories from the Bible.

Rochelle recently reported on a similar program in India.

Uganda story from Wired News


The Little Bookmobile That Could

Wisconsin's Brown County has lots of little schools spread around a vast area, and not alot of public libraries that are easily accessible to students and seniors. But it does have a beat-up Bookmobile, and “Bookmobile Bob� Ripley. Because the Bookmobile’s on-board generator is on the fritz, Ripley plugs his vehicle into nearby power outlets when he makes stops in rural areas or at metropolitan nursing homes.

Last year, county officials proposed junking the Bookmobile as part of budget cuts. Colleen Magley of Wayside said area residents raised $301 from a bratwurst fry for operating costs for the Bookmobile.

“It’s not much, but it helps,� she said. Story from the Green Bay Press Gazette .


Rickshaws: Pedal Powered Bookmobiles

Anonymous Patron writes "Slashdot pointed the way to An AP Article on some nifty brightly painted pedal-carts accompanied by a computer instructor who gives classes to young and old, students and teachers alike. The bicycle cart is the center of a project called "Infothela," or info-cart. It aims to use technology to improve education, health care and access to agricultural information in India's villages, where most of the country's 1.06 billion people live.

There's an older article at The Times Of India and more on the project Here, which includes a diagram of the nifty looking bikes."


Rural MD Bookmobile Will Be Traded In

Cecil County Maryland is looking forward to receiving its brand new $160,000 state of the art bookmobile next spring, and the kids and their families can't wait to climb aboard and borrow books.

But according to this article in the Cecil Whig , it sounds like with only 52,000 miles, the old bookmobile may still have a bit of life in it. Librarian/chauffeur Maxine Gibbs says despite its resemblance to a bread truck, its slightly leaky roof and no radio reception, the van is always greeted enthusiastically, with kids begging for her to blow the horn so they can climb up and check out the Clifford books, comics and anime.


Digital Bookmobiles Bringing Library Service to India

Interesting story on bookmobiles which provide print-on-demand titles for people who might not have ready access to a regular library.

How it works is that a book or manuscript is first scanned by a high-end Minolta BS 7000 scanner, (one hundred of them were recently donated by the Carnegie Mellon University, followed by a "cropper" treatment whereby all unwanted stains or needless images on the original text are deleted. Before being put on the web the manuscript passes through indigenously developed software called the Optical Corrector Recognizer, available currently in seven Indian languages.

The service is very popular and often 200 people will show up at any given stop. The organizers hope to have service available to all of India by 2008. More from Rediff.



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