The Albany (NY) Public Library's bookmobile, a lumbering 36-foot symbol of its efforts to reach deeper into underserved neighborhoods and whose staff helped enroll thousands of first-time library patrons, has been decommissioned.
But library officials stress the final chapter for the 1991 Thomas Built bus, acquired for $12,000 in 2005 from the Utica-area library system, signals a broader victory in its efforts to expand the library's influence throughout the city.
The opening over the last eight months of five new and renovated neighborhood branches -- including the first branch for Arbor Hill and West Hill in 40 years -- they argue, has cut the need for the finicky behemoth piloted and capably maintained for the last five years by librarian Will Takach.
Library Director Carol Nersinger said the bookmobile, whose predecessor was sidelined during budget cuts in the 1970s, was "a temporary measure" until that $29 million project concluded last month.
Will Takach, 32, an Albany native, wasn't just the bus' librarian but also its driver and chief mechanic -- a skill he said he learned in part from reading manuals at the library's main branch as a kid.