Vermont Town Struggles To Keep Bookmobiles Alive

If you want to hear first-hand what it’s like to go through a whole month without a single visit from the bookmobile, just ask the pre-schoolers at Stay and Play, a day care center in Lyndonville, Vermont.

“We miss the bookmobile,” says one child. “Yeah, we miss the bookmobile until it comes here,” says another.

Now that the bookmobile has broken down, librarians have to bring books in their own cars for story hour. Daycare provider Anneka Bickford says it’s not as thrilling as having a big, brightly painted vehicle roll into the driveway and open the doors so the kids can browse and choose their own books.

“It’s getting the children involved with what a library is, how to check out books [and] how to return books,” Bickford says. “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.”

It’s not the first bookmobile to bite the dust. In fact, over the years Vermont’s large fleet has dwindled to three or four. Lyndonville’s head librarian, Cindy Karasinski, says replacement costs have skyrocketed.

“The first bookmobile was out of the dump, it was a plumber’s van out of the dump,” Karasinski says. “New bookmobiles, when it was new, this one was over $90,000, so that seems not the way we are going to go.”

Sadly, Karasinksi says, the kind of grants that used to fund bookmobiles have all but dried up. But one Vermont librarian remembers when rolling libraries were all the rage — even a little scandalous, for single librarians. Eleanor Simons, now 92 years old, drove one around back in the 1940s. Her great aunt called it “intimate.”

“Well the idea of riding around all day with a strange man, that’s what she thought was intimate, of course,” Simons says.

But for Simons, it was a dream job. She hopes the Lyndonville puts a bookmobile back on the road.

Copyright 2012 Vermont Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.vpr.net.