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Chatham Commissioners backtrack on bookmobile service after public outcry

Posted Thursday, July 22, 2010

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Pittsboro, NC - At its meeting on July 19, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners voted to reinstate the Public Library’s bookmobile service, effective July 21, while the service is studied further.

Chairman Sally Kost described the bookmobile as “a rolling dinosaur”

Elaine Haidt had emailed Chatham County commissioner Sally Kost, describing the negative consequences of the Board of Commissioners' decision to kill the bookmobile, and questioned why there was so little public information and discussion before the axe fell.

Elaine claimed that the bookmobile had a huge following at Carolina Meadows, Galloway Ridge and Fearrington Village. Many residents of these retirement or semi-retirement communities don't want to, or can't drive, the 30 mile round trip to the new library site.

Jim Brooking pointed out that a number of avid readers and enthusiastic patrons of the bookmobile were disappointed and disconcerted that a decision to terminate this service was made without wider discussion and community input.

Chatham County Bookmobile

He noted that comments in the minutes from the June 3 meeting from the Commissioners and indeed from the Library Director seemed to indicate unfamiliarity with the bookmobile's attraction, the community it serves, and the prospects of replacing Bookmobile services by the new Chatham Community Library when (or if) it opens in September.

Chair Kost mentioned the bookmobile. Ms. Clark provided some history on bookmobiles, and said the Chatham County vehicle had declined since the 1970s. With the new Library, and with people able to travel now, it would be best to consolidate their resources and encourage people, particularly children, to come in and have a relationship with the Library, she said.

Commissioner Lucier asked Ms. Clark if she thought day care centers would load kids up and take them to the Library. Ms. Clark replied that she thought they would. Commissioner Lucier said he thought that was more problematic, and Ms. Clark replied that transportation could be a bit of a problem. She talked with Friends of the Library about a project to deliver books to daycare centers that request them, she said.

Commissioner Lucier asked Ms. Clark if she had communicated that strategy to the daycares, because some of them seem to be unaware of it. Chair Kost described the bookmobile as “a rolling dinosaur,” but added that there was a need to get books to people who do not have mobility, which includes children and seniors.

Commissioner Lucier explained that people from three daycares had called him and said they had heard that the Board was taking the bookmobile out of the budget. Obviously, there is a communication issue, he said. Ms. Clark apologized for that, and said she had not intended that to be the message. Once the library staff can know what will become of the bookmobile, they can develop a clear message about book delivery, she said.

Ms. Clark pointed out that the bookmobile gets five miles to the gallon and that one needed a commercial driver’s license to drive it. Chair Kost asked about using the Library’s hybrid vehicle to shuttle materials to senior centers and daycare centers. Ms. Clark said that volunteers from the Friends of the Library would provide the transportation.

Commissioner Lucier recommended getting a letter out to those who use the book mobile explaining what the strategy was, when the new service would begin, and how to access that service. Commissioner Vanderbeck agreed that it was important to do that soon, and in concert with the Friends if they are going to take it over.

Chair Kost noted that there would be a grand ribbon cutting ceremony for adults, but suggested thinking about one geared to the children as well. Ms. Clark thought that was a great idea. Chair Kost verified that the Board agreed with Library’s decision to discontinue the bookmobile. Commissioner Lucier added that it was dependent upon an immediate communication strategy.

As part of the recent budget process, a staff review of bookmobile costs raised concerns about its efficiency of operations.

At the July 19 meeting, the board instructed county staff to come back to the commissioners with recommended options no later than six months.

As part of its review, the board also asked for additional data on the existing use of the bookmobile throughout the county.


Chatham County Bookmobile schedule for remainder of July 2010

  • July 21: Cole Park, 1:30-5 pm
  • July 22: Busy Bee’s, 9:30-9:50 am; Mona’s Kidd’s; 10:05-10:30 am, Chatham Charter Pre-School; 11-11:15 am, Bonlee, 12:30-1:30 pm; Bennett, 2-4 pm
  • July 26: Martha’s Chapel, 10:15-11 am; Carolina Meadows, 1-2:30 pm; Governor’s Village, 3-5 pm
  • July 28, Cole Park, 1:30-5 pm
  • July 29: Wescare, 9:30-9:50 am; 1st Learning, 10-10:30 am; CCD, 10:45-11:15 am; Sonflower Seeds, 11:30 am –noon; Silk Hope Pre-K, 12:05-12:35 pm

Extended discussion of Bookmobile services and patronage at the June 3 meeting can be found in the minutes on page 16.
 
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Chatham Commissioners backtrack on bookmobile service after public outcry
In a June 3 meeting, Chatham County Commission chairman Sally Kost described the bookmobile as “a rolling dinosaur.”
 
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