August 21, 2014

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Lorain’s library launches campaign to replace aging bookmobile

A $400,000 fundraising campaign by the Lorain Public Library System to buy a new bookmobile is getting on a roll.

Library board members last month approved the campaign for the bookmobile, which will serve library patrons in Avon, Columbia Station, Kipton, Henrietta Township, Lorain, North Ridgeville, Firelands High School in Oberlin and Sheffield Lake.

The current 32-foot bookmobile, built in 2001, can fit up to 15 adults or 25 to 30 children. It broke down for about a week a year ago and for a week in December, according to Jodi Fulton, a library associate who frequently drives the bookmobile. Fulton said the bookmobile is sturdy and handles well — bookmobile shelves are slanted inward to prevent materials from falling during driving — but conceded it’s getting old.

“A lot of people depend on us to bring their entertainment to them,” Fulton said. “When we’re not able to come to them, they feel it.”

Rather than sitting in a dealership lot ready to roll when purchased, bookmobiles have to be custom made and fundraising could take a few years, library officials said. So the current bookmobile should be around for a while, which patrons like Lynda Carter say they’re happy about.

Like a lot of bookmobile regulars, Carter, a 63-year-old resident of the Nativity Manor Apartments in Lorain, doesn’t have a car. While bookmobile books have to be returned two weeks after checkout compared to three weeks at library branches, Carter said she doesn’t mind.

“I just have to go outside,” Carter said Wednesday when the bookmobile stopped for about 45 minutes across from the apartments. “It’s very convenient.”

The bookmobile typically makes about five stops per day and stops at each location every two weeks. Besides apartment complexes and homes for seniors, it stops at day cares and schools that don’t have libraries. Elba Potter, a library associate who drove the bookmobile Wednesday, said students sometimes use bookmobile materials to research reports.

It is also popular with patrons in smaller communities where branches aren’t always close by. “A lot of the people really appreciate it,” Potter said.

On Wednesday, Fulton rattled off movie reviews for patrons ordering DVDs. For those patrons without cars or regular transportation to get to theaters, the bookmobile is a free way to keep up with current movies. With a combined total of about 3,000 books, audio books, CDs and DVDs, the bookmobile lacks the selection of library branches, but Fulton said materials can usually be ordered within a month. Another bookmobile perk is that patrons have two weeks to return DVDs compared to one week at branches.

Fulton has been working on the bookmobile since she was hired in 2001 and said it’s a labor of love.

“My friends and I go to dinner and they get unhappy that I go to work and enjoy my job that much because they don’t,” she said. “This is not really a job. It’s an enjoyable way to spend your day.”

Bookmobile

The Lorain Public Library System’s bookmobile makes about five stops per day. To check the bookmobile schedule online, go to lorainpubliclibrary.org and click on locations or call (440) 244-1192, ext. 244.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.