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Published: Wednesday, 6/15/2005

New bookmobile is more compact and fuel-efficient

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Max Green, Jr., takes his movies while librarian Tom McDonald records his check-out items in the new bookmobile during its stop at Flory Gardens. Max Green, Jr., takes his movies while librarian Tom McDonald records his check-out items in the new bookmobile during its stop at Flory Gardens.
SCHUKAR / BLADE Enlarge

Max Green, Jr., loads up on books and movies every two weeks in the parking lot outside his home in Flory Gardens.

An avid patron of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library's bookmobile, Mr. Green loves checking out western and drama films and keeping tabs on the latest books for his grandchildren.

And when Mr. Green stepped aboard the library's new bookmobile yesterday at his residence, 3425 Nebraska Ave., he was surprised by the upgrade.

"It's a lot more compact, but you have a lot of room," he said. "When I looked from outside, I thought, 'This is going to be too small,' but it's all right."

Unveiled yesterday, the library's new $179,665 bookmobile replaced one that had been in service 11 years. The vehicle was bought with money from the 1-mill library levy approved in November. The levy was expected to raise $7.8 million a year for library books, staff, and other upgrades.

The 28-foot bookmobile is more fuel-efficient than the former truck, but still uses a lot of gas to run the generator while patrons browse the racks. When fully loaded, the bookmobile can weigh up to 9 tons.

"For a vehicle its size, it runs 9 to 10 miles a gallon, which is considered good by industry standards," said Pat Nigro, manager of library outreach services.

The new bookmobile is 2 feet shorter than the old vehicle. While it might look smaller to some patrons, it actually has more shelving because there is no hydraulic wheelchair ramp.

Instead, the 2005 Ford vehicle was designed as a curbside model with no steps needed to enter because it rises and lowers with a hydraulic system for the whole vehicle. It does, however, have a step and ramp that pull out from under the door when needed.

With about 2,500 materials on board, including books, CDs, movies, and books on tape, the new bookmobile is more like a library branch, Mrs. Nigro said

"We're really a rolling bookcase on wheels," she said.

It has a Peek-A-Book interactive program that reads parts of stories to children and urges them to check out the book to hear how it ends, plus Internet access through satellite service.

"Not only are we bringing books to people they want to read, music to people who want to listen, and movies to people who want to watch, but access to the information highway," Mrs. Nigro said.

The library, however, has some kinks to work out with the technology. When the bookmobile stopped at Dorrell Manor, 5836 Southwyck Blvd., things went smoothly. But later in the afternoon at Flory Gardens, the computer system did not work. So librarian Tom McDonald and driver and library clerk Pete Wicks resorted to writing down names and code numbers on the materials to continue serving patrons as they tried to get the satellite service up and running.

At Flory Gardens yesterday, the DVD and VHS section in the back of the bookmobile was the popular spot.

Ann Louise Walker said she comes to the bookmobile twice a month to get her scary movie fix.

"I like the new stuff and the old classics," Ms. Walker said, listing favorites such as The Birds and Psycho.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com or

419-724-6050.



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