Booked in Lansdowne Bookmobile: Stops at two elementary schools will enable children and adults to find their summer reading close to home in a community that lost its library five years ago.

July 03, 1998|By Ron Snyder | Ron Snyder,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

To help her 5-year-old son prepare for reading and for first grade, Phyllis Fritz of Lansdowne takes him to the library. But this library is different from most: It has four wheels.

In an effort to ensure that Lansdowne residents have access to books, the Baltimore County library system this summer is sending its "Special Delivery" bookmobile to two area schools every Wednesday -- the first time the service has been available in the community, which has no library.

"I think it's nice to come right up the street to be able to help my son with his reading," said Fritz, whose son attends Riverview Elementary. Riverview and Baltimore Highlands Elementary are the two bookmobile stops.

Baltimore County has had a bookmobile since the 1970s, with the current version in service since 1990. It travels on a two-week rotating schedule, Monday to Thursday, going to half the county one week and the other half the next.

Typically, the bookmobile travels to areas where people otherwise would not be able to get to a library, such as senior centers, adult day care centers and camps for special needs children.

Lansdowne has been without a library since its branch was closed five years ago after county budget cuts. Now that school is out, many children in the area would not have access to a library unless they traveled to the closest branch, in Arbutus.

"In many ways, we are an institutional lifeline for those who like to read but do not have access to books," said Gail Ross, manager of the Woodlawn library, the branch where the bookmobile is based.

Melissa Ellis, 11, enjoys most books, but prefers Danielle Steele novels. Her mother, Jill Eberling, noticed that since the library in the area closed, her family was not reading as much, and she was glad to see the bookmobile arrive.

"We used to have to travel to the Arbutus branch, but we did not always have the time to go there," Eberling said. "Now the bookmobile comes to us."

The first week the bookmobile stopped at the Lansdowne schools, more than 20 children, ages 4 to 11, signed up for the library system's summer reading program. The program encourages children to read a selection of books, magazines and newspapers; after reading a certain number, the children receive a prize.

"The whole purpose of this program and the bookmobile traveling to Lansdowne is to get kids to read," said Ken Nierwienski, who runs the bookmobile.

The bookmobile's service is not limited to children. It circulates approximately 10,000 books each month to readers of all ages. A library card is not required; books can be borrowed for up to two weeks; and a book that the bookmobile does not have can be requested and will be brought on the next visit.

But children remain an important focus of the service. Nierwienski said that even though young people spend increasing amounts of time watching television or exploring the Internet, they still like to read.

"Kids, especially young ones, have an interest in reading," Nierwienski said. "The key today is to keep them interested in reading while they are young so they enjoy it when they get older."

Pub Date: 7/03/98

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