Li­brary fundraises for new book­mo­bile



dm­cbride@ ce­cil­whig. com

— You may think the Ce­cil­ton Branch Li­brary is small, but it’s not the small­est branch of the Ce­cil County Pub­lic Li­brary.

The small­est branch holds a cou­ple thou­sand books, has no cafe or com­puter sta­tion, and in its first form didn’t even have heat­ing. But, hey, it’s mo­bile and it serves ap­prox­i­mately 2,500 chil­dren, stu­dents and fam­i­lies each month.


It’s the book­mo­bile. The cur­rent book­mo­bile trav­els to all Ce­cil County Pub­lic Schools and Head Start pro­grams, in ad­di­tion to lower so­cio- eco­nomic and ge­o­graph­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged neigh­bor­hoods. While it may not be open reg­u­lar hours Mon­day through Satur­day, the book­mo­bile av­er­ages 50 vis­its a month.

And, like any other piece of equip­ment in the li­brary, it’s in need of up­dat­ing from time to time.

When Arne An­der­son started driv­ing the book- mo­bile about 10 years ago, it was “brand new,” he re­called. Today, the en­gine is still good, but the ve­hi­cle has had other is­sues, he said. He has also no­ticed rust and some sag­ging floors, al­though he noted nei­ther are prob­lems that would be dan­ger­ous for pa­trons who visit.

“It doesn’t han­dle quite as nicely,” he said, adding the ve­hi­cle is “slug­gish” and runs louder now than it once did.

And that’s sort of im­por­tant when you’re driv­ing a li­brary through wind­ing county roads.

“The thing about a book­mo­bile that peo­ple don’t re­al­ize is that when you have a book­mo­bile, the books move. When you hit the brakes, ev­ery book on the book­mo­bile lurches for­ward. You have to be aware of that. The stop­ping time isn’t as great,” he said.

For four to six hours a day, An­der­son is driv­ing around in the li­brary’s cus­tom- made book­mo­bile. It started as a lit­er­acy pro­gram, so that means there are no li­brar y cards, due dates or fines. The book­mo­bile serves those with­out ac­cess to trans­porta­tion. The new­est book­mo­bile – the county’s first went into ser­vice in 1947 with 800 books – went on the road in 2005. In 2003, a county res­i­dent re­mem­bered the li­brary in her will, and that gift helped se­cure fund­ing for a new book­mo­bile.

Re­cently, the book­mo­bile ex­pe­ri­enced a num­ber of me­chan­i­cal is­sues that re­sulted in ex­tended ser­vice dis­rup­tions. At 12- years- old, the ve­hi­cle is rather old for a county ve­hi­cle, ac­cord­ing to li­brary of­fi­cials. In general, county ve­hi­cles last about 10 years.

The li­brar y hopes to gain fund­ing for a new book­mo­bile through two av­enues – through the county’s fis­cal year 2017 bud­get and through fundrais­ing by the Friends of the Li­brary. The li­brary also plans to use money won through the In­sti­tute of Mu­seum and Li­brary Sciences Na­tional Medal to­ward the cost, a $ 5,000 cash prize.

The Friends, a non­profit group that ad­vo­cates for the li­brary, hope to raise $ 30,000 to con­trib­ute to the pur­chase of a new ve­hi­cle. This past month, the group re­ceived its largest sin­gle do­na­tion ever of $ 5,000 from the Vet­er­ans of For­eign Wars Post No. 6027 in North East.

The Friends hope to fundraise through ways big and small, and that fundrais­ing is heat­ing up as Na­tional Li­brary Week is this April. Those who dine at Chili’s in Elk­ton on April 13 ( aka Na­tional Book­mo­bile Day) can help out through the pur­chase of a meal. The Friends have or­ga­nized that any­one who men­tions the book­mo­bile will have 10 per­cent of their bill do­nated back to the book­mo­bile fundraiser.

In fundrais­ing for the new book­mo­bile, mem­bers of the Friends have talked with com­mu­nity mem­bers and learned about the book­mo­bile’s rep­u­ta­tion.

“Oh, I re­mem­ber the book­mo­bile,” is a phrase Friends Pres­i­dent Amanda But­ler said she’s heard a cou­ple times while out talk­ing about the cause. The Friends are look­ing for sup­port in the form of do­na­tions from busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als, as well as new mem­bers. In­for­ma­tion on giv­ing can be found at the li­brary, on the li­brary’s web­site, http:// www. ce­cil. ebranch. info, and through the Friends’ Face­book page.

The group hopes to have a new book­mo­bile by the fall, But­ler said.

While fundrais­ing for the book­mo­bile, the Friends have not for­got­ten about sum­mer read­ing, But­ler said. Each year, the Friends pro­vide fi­nan­cial sup­port for that pro­gram, and she said the li­brary has al­ready re­ceived fund­ing for the com­ing pro­gram.

The book­mo­bile isn’t just a li­brar y on wheels, it’s a com­mu­nity space with its own per­son­al­ity. The 1952 ver­sion was nick­named “Big Bertha.” When the up­grade ar­rived in 1974 ( fully car­peted and with air con­di­tion­ing), a con­test was held and it was chris­tened “Gul­liver.”

The book­mo­bile has even been fea­tured in the county’s Christ­mas pa­rade in North East. It’s such a fa­vorite that Tracy Alexan­der, who works in the Per­ryville and Port De­posit branches, was in­spired to cre­ate a mini ver­sion one year with Bar­bara Jan­na­man from the North East Branch Li­brary in 2013.

In an af­ter­noon, the two used a wagon, card­board box, white bulletin board pa­per and con­struc­tion pa­per to de­sign their min­i­mo­bile. It was just big enough for Alexan­der’s daugh­ter, Mag­gie, to ride inside.

The re­cep­tion from the pub­lic was just what she ex­pected, Alexan­der said.

“On our pa­rade route we would of­ten travel by groups of peo­ple that would shout things like, ‘ We love the li­brary!’” Alexan­der re­called. She said many peo­ple see the book­mo­bile as a “life­line” and are ex­cited to see “Mr. Arne” visit.

Now that the weather is get­ting warmer, An­der­son is a lit­tle busier with his book­mo­bile rounds. Over the past two sum­mers, li­brar­i­ans have taken the sum­mer read­ing pro­gram to more than 1,000 chil­dren and teens that likely would not have oth­er­wise par­tic­i­pated, ac­cord­ing to num­bers from the li­brary.

On av­er­age, An­der­son has at least 2,000 books on the ve­hi­cle. As the book­mo­bile has got­ten older and harder to drive, he’s brought the num­ber down to lower the ve­hi­cle’s weight. He said it hasn’t caused much of an is­sue for pa­trons, who seem to re­spond bet­ter when ma­te­ri­als are on dis­play and there’s room to sort through them.

Be­cause it is a spe­cial­ity ve­hi­cle, An­der­son said, some parts come from Italy or Canada. Dur­ing one re­cent prob­lem, the book­mo­bile was out of com­mis­sion for a month wait­ing for parts.

How­ever, An­der­son said that the book­mo­bile still re­ceives the same warm re­cep­tion. He said he drives it al­most ever y day, of­ten to un­der­served com­mu­ni­ties like Lake­side, North Bay and Wind­sor Vil­lage. He also fre­quently works with Ce­cil County Pub­lic Schools. Re­cently, he trav­eled to the Hollingsworth Manor neigh­bor­hood with teach­ers from Holly Hall El­e­men­tary School.

The book­mo­bile brings not just books, but also DVDs and in­for­ma­tion about li­brary pro­gram­ming, as well as com­mu­nity re­minders about job searches and when it is time to en­roll chil­dren in school, An­der­son said.

“When you have a book­mo­bile go­ing around the com­mu­nity, you’re not just bring the ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence, but you’re draw­ing them into the com­mu­nity,” An­der­son said.


Arne An­der­son, who op­er­ates the book­mo­bile, greets li­brary pa­trons at his Wind­sor Vil­lage stop. The li­brary is try­ing to raise funds to re­place the ag­ing book­mo­bile.


The 1974 book­mo­bile was fully car­peted and named “Gul­liver” for its trav­els around the county. The li­brary re­placed “Gul­liver” in 2003 and is now look­ing to make an­other up­date.

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