New chapter: Kent County introduces ‘Linus’ bookmobile

 

DOVER — Linus, Kent County’s new mobile library, or bookmobile, was unveiled on Saturday morning to much fanfare.

Local and state-level politicians, delegates and well-wishers all turned out to the Kent County Public Library for the ribbon-cutting and walk-though.

The announcement came after a year-long hiatus to the county’s bookmobile service. The now-retired Lucy had been decommissioned after 14 years of service due to several mechanical and maintenance issues.

The county invested $155,000 in the purchase and “fit” of the new vehicle, noted Kent County Administrator Michael Petit de Mange.

“The process of replacing it was about two years,” he said. “We actually started discussions about it even before that. Over the years we’ve seen that the program is very important to the people in the county because it helps bring books and other media into some of the most remote locations in the community. It’s a way to serve people who have difficulty getting to the library themselves.”

The new mobile library will deliver books, periodicals, audiobooks and movies throughout Kent County on a weekly basis. County Librarian, Dr. Hilary Welliver, is particularly excited about the added capacity and capability Linus will add to the library.

“We’re absolutely delighted and thrilled — we’re expecting to expand services and introduce new ones we’ve never offered,” she said. “I also love that it’s ADA compliant so we can get people on and off the bookmobile no matter what. It has some added versatility as well so we’re going to be able to drop in on a lot more events, parades and things like that. We’re always looking for ways to increase our engagement with the community.”

The bookmobile will now be able to offer a Wi-Fi hot spot, computer workstations for the public’s use and limited printing services.

Also new to the unit will be the driver, Brittany Mosely, who was hired in December.

Kent County Parks and Recreation Director Jeremy Sheppard says the new vehicle will start its service by picking up the old stops, but will have an eye on expansion — he says the county is in talks with the city of Dover about new stops in the city limits.

“Kent County is a growing county and we need to continue to grow our community services,” he said. “When you look at it overall, we have limited community services and this is an opportunity to grow that and bring those services directly to the populations who need them the most.”

The bookmobile schedule was changed to stabilize weekly stops, but also to provide the flexibility to accommodate requests for outreach to school functions and community events.

Initial stops beginning in February will include: Hartly United Methodist Church, Byler’s on Del. 8, Cheswold Fire Hall, Spring Meadows, the Milford Veteran’s Home, Felton Fire Hall, Modern Maturity Center, Kent County Administration building, and the county parks on Saturdays.

A current schedule of stops can be accessed on the county library’s website at http://co.kent.de.us/kc-library.aspx. To inquire about the bookmobile making a special stop at an event or function within the county, call the Kent County Public Library at 302-744-1919.

Farewell Lucy!

Now parked at Brecknock Park, Lucy is currently idle. Originally purchased for $86,237 back in 2004 with the help of a monetary gift left by two sibling patrons from Hartly, Lucy and Walter Urban, after they died, the bookmobile was later nicknamed Lucy in honor of the donation.

Over the old diesel engine Ford E-450’s term of service, $29,900 was spent on maintenance and it racked up 105,900 miles.

Fifth district Kent County Levy Court Commissioner George “Jody” Sweeney says the Lucy served the county well.

“We got 14 years out of Lucy and she wasn’t even really designed for the weight of books,” he said. “She struggled a bit because the drivetrain wasn’t built for that purpose. Linus, on the other hand, was built exactly for what it’ll be doing. We think we get a lot of good years out of it.”

The county suspects Linus will be in service for 15-20 years. Slightly smaller than Lucy, Linus is also expected to be more fuel efficient, maneuverable and cost effective over a long period of time.

According to Mr. Petit de Mange, Lucy’s service may not quite be over yet.

“Right now it’s parked in the garage at the park, but we’re looking at several ideas of what to do with it,” he said. “There’s a possibility to use it, because of the way it’s designed, as a sort of ticket booth for certain events. We may end up auctioning it off too — we’ve heard of people converting vehicles like these into hunting cabins of sorts.”

Staff writer Ian Gronau can be reached at 741-8272 or igronau@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment