Good News and Bad Face Nation's Bookmobiles

The Curmudgeony Librarian writes "The news for bookmobiles runs hot and cold this week as a new service launches and another may be saved from cuts, while still others face the budget chopping block. There is good news in Rochester Hills Michgain, and Seattle Washington, bad news in Utica, New York and Winchester, Virginia.

In Rochester Hills, Michgain, bookmobile service for the Rochester Hills Public Library is set to begin in the next few weeks as soon as a driver is found. The decision to create the service was made after years of debate wither to open a library branch or create a mobile service. The bookmobile will will carry over 3,000 items and serve Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township in Michgain.

In Seattle, Washington, the City Council's budget committee restored funding for many of the health and human services cuts in the proposed 2005 budget. These restored service include partial restoration of Seattle Public Library's bookmobile rounds.

In Utica, New York, the Mid-York Library System Bookmobile will stop running after more than 40 years of service. The bookmobile was cancelled due to dropping ciculation numbers which fell from 60,000 in the 1970s to 21,000 today. Rising costs for the service were also cited as a factor. Many bookmobile patrons expressed dismay at the closing. The library will offer 24 hour patron access to it's catalog via the internet.

In Winchester Virginia, the Handley Regional Library has halted bookmobile service to plug a massive budget gap caused by state funding shortfalls. Citing low circulation, an inability to locate qualified drivers, and the aformentioned budget gap the library's Board of Directors unanimously recommend dropping the bookmobile from its budget. The library is considering additional ways to save money including other alternatives to the bookmobile and outright sale of the vehicle. Even with these measures, the library is still facing a severe budget gap of over $100,000. "Unless we can get the state to go to full funding, I don’t think this will get better," said Library Director Trish Ridgeway."

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