Library director seeks funds for new bookmobile

County's van out of service since mid-December

January 08, 2004|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County Public Library's bookmobile has been out of service since mid-December and is being repaired again, and the library director would like to see money in the county budget to buy a new one in the next few years.

Otherwise, said Linda Mielke, the director, ""I'm going to get beat out by a snowplow."

"I'm trying to find a way to get a new" bookmobile, said Mielke, who pitched the idea to the county commissioners in the fall but said she didn't get a definite response. "We've put a lot of money into it in the past few years in maintenance and repairs."

Bob Farinholt, a service manager with the county's Bureau of Fleet Management, said there is a problem with the bookmobile's generator, which operates its electrical system. The generator, which was replaced in June and is under warranty, was taken to an outside dealership for repair late last month.

The bookmobile, a 1989 GMC van with about 140,000 miles on it, has undergone several repairs in the past couple years, including a rebuilt engine and transmission, Farinholt said. The vehicle will be ready to go again once its generator is fixed.

"We feel it still has life in it," said Farinholt, who added that he does not know when the repairs will be completed.

"I'm with them," Mielke said of the decision to repair, but she added, "I didn't know it was going to be this long. People begin to ask, `when?' `why?' "

The bookmobile was off the road 43 days last year because of mechanical problems.

The 1989 vehicle is the library's third bookmobile since the service began decades ago, Mielke said. The library, with five branches and a sixth planned in Finksburg, also has two small vans to serve home day care centers.

The bookmobile covers the county, and its circulation has risen by 10,000 since 2001, to 48,620 volumes, Mielke said.

Mielke said she recently looked at a used 2000 bookmobile in Montgomery County. She did not get past "kicking the tires," and no offer was made for the vehicle, although the library board liked the idea.

Carroll officials "turned that idea down because they had put so much money into our bookmobile generator," she said. "It is under warranty, but still, it has been out for three weeks. This is my only bookmobile.

"I agreed that it might last another two years," she said of her talks with the county budget and fleet management staff members. "But now there's no money allocated in the county's fleet-management budget, no allocation in the next five years for a bookmobile.

"All I'm trying to do is to get the county to acknowledge that we will need one within the next two years," Mielke said. "They say there's two years in it yet, and I'm fine with that.

"I just need some assurance, and the library board needs assurance, that it will be replaced."

Otherwise, she said, "I'll get dumped, I know it. I've been waiting for two years."

Sun staff writer Hanah Cho contributed to this article.

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