By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,326)
Monument Square in downtown Portland was the site of the ribbon cutting ceremony for the public library’s new Bookmobile at noon today. It signaled the beginning of a new era in which the library is reaching out to neighborhoods lacking in accessibility to the library and all that it has to offer. KeyBank is the sponsor who made this Bookmobile outreach possible.
The closing of Reiche School and the closure of the library at the East End Community School several years ago made this outreach even more important. (Originally, the library was housed in the Adams School. When it was vacated, the library was moved to the “EECS” where it was located until budget cuts closed it. The original library at the Adams School was the first school located public library in Portland.)
The new Bookmobile was built by Montana Speciality Vehicles. It is built to hold 1,700 items, although some of the shelves were missing today so it was not at capacity, according to Steve Weigle, who will split his time evenly between the Riverton Library and driving the Bookmobile.
The Bookmobile will be able to do everything that the main branch at Monument Squares does. That includes putting “holds” on books, although there are more details to be worked out on picking up those books according to Weigle. Brian Damien, conducting tours of the Bookmobile today said that RFPs were sent out to potential manufacturers; the library received three responses to the RFP – one in Portland and the other from Worcester, MA. Part of the reason for selection of the Montana company was its short turn-around time – 4 months to construct.
Speaking on behalf of KeyBank was Sterling Kozlowski, President of KeyBank for the New England District. He said the Bank was pleased to partner with the library on this project. “This is not your grandmother’s library. There is lots of technology here,” he said.
The Bookmobile is expected to serve 22 locations including the Cummings Center, EECS and the Root Cellar. Those scheduling details are yet to be finalized.