April 3, 2012

Bookmobiles vanishing from the roads


Cobleigh Public LIbrary's broken-down bookmobile

National Bookmobile Day is coming up next week — on April 11 — but according to NPR, bookmobiles are becoming a thing of the past. Once a popular way for libraries to reach out to communities by bringing books by the truckload to schools, parking lots, and street corners, they’ve become outmoded and too expensive to maintain. A Vermont librarian estimated the cost of a new one as about $90,000, and the grants that used to fund them have dried up, so ever since the Cobleigh Public Library in Lyndonville, VT had its bookmobile break down about a month ago, it has gone unreplaced.

While librarians are still able to go to the local daycare center for story time, the kids miss the excitement and novelty of a brightly colored truck full of books they can browse on their own. Daycare provider Anneka Bickford says of the bookmobile:

“It’s getting the children involved with what a library is, how to check out books [and] how to return books… They would do programs with the children; singing, dancing, themes — so it’s the excitement of the library that we can’t give to the children.”

Lyndonville isn’t the only town to lose a bookmobile. Libraries across the country have cut down on using them, with Vermont’s fleet reduced to three or four. Some citizens are fine with this, stating that the trucks will only be a financial burden at this point–the fate of Cobleigh’s bookmobile will be decided by the local library board.

Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.