By DEBBIE HALL
Representatives of the Patrick County branch of the Blue Ridge Regional Library recently asked the county to partner with them in buying a new bookmobile.
The Patrick County Board of Supervisors were asked for a one-time $35,000 contribution to help pay a portion of the estimated $180,000 to $200,000 cost of a new vehicle, according to Janet Demiray, chairman of the bookmobile fund.
The current vehicle is in its 19th year of service, according to library representatives, and Demiray, who said a fundraising drive launched in November, including proceeds from book sales, has netted a little more than $66,000 toward the goal.
Dan River District supervisor Roger Hayden asked officials if they had considered buying a smaller vehicle to replace the current bookmobile.
Demiray said the replacement vehicle currently under consideration is smaller than the current model.
Lock Boyce, supervisor of the Mayo River District, said “one big vehicle is more likely to have engine and other problems.” He suggested library officials replace books on the bookmobile with electronic reading devices such as trademarked brands like Kindles. Additionally, Boyce said several books (ebooks) could be loaded onto the devices, which could then be rented to patrons.
Electronic readers, Boyce said, are smaller, weigh less and would require less space. Thus a smaller vehicle could be used to transport them. He urged library representatives to find “a clever way” to transport reading materials.
While library officials have considered that “as part of our service,” Demiray said she does not believe books will ever be replaced by electronic reading devices.
Hayden said it is important to “embrace the future while preserving the past.”
The bookmobile currently contains more than 3,000 books, DVDs and audios, and travels about 8,000 miles each year, according to online information.
Representatives at the meeting said the bookmobile visits six public schools and Trinity Christian School once every two weeks or about twice each month.
On average, more than 100 students at both Stuart and Patrick Springs elementary schools visit the bookmobile. That number rises to more than 150 students at Woolwine Elementary School, officials said.
In addition to elementary schools, the bookmobile also works with summer programs, churches and other community events to help promote reading.
According to an online history of the library in Stuart, Carl Conner was paid $4 per day in 1948 to drive the bookmobile out into the county three days a week. A circa 1946 photo in the adjacent Historical Museum depicts a bookmobile at one of its stops, according to online information.
Rick Ward, director of library services, also asked the board for an increase of more than $10,000 in FY ’17. The increase is needed to help pay the insurance costs of two employees.
Supervisors took no action on either request.