The Palatine Public Library District has announced that bookmobile service will be discontinued at the end of this summer. The bookmobile has been a recognizable presence in the community since 1998, when it began visiting schools and apartments primarily in northeast Palatine, including those in the area annexed into Palatine in 1999.
While the current bookmobile has been reliable during the past 11 years of use, operations and maintenance costs continue to rise. At the same time, checkouts from the bookmobile have declined by more than 25 percent over the past five years. Bookmobile checkouts equal just 3 percent of total annual circulation for the library.
Since the library first began operating a bookmobile, online services and materials available to patrons have grown significantly. Patrons have access to digital library resources such as downloadable e-books and subscription learning tools.
More patrons are now able to visit the Main Library and branches, relying less on bookmobile service. The bookmobile accounts for only 2 percent of total annual visits to library facilities.
In the near future, the library would need to purchase a new bookmobile. The cost of a new bookmobile is estimated at $280,000 to $300,000. Library trustees and administrative staff recognized that retiring the bookmobile and reallocating resources across library services would be in the best interests of library patrons overall.
The Board of Library Trustees has instructed staff to put the bookmobile up for sale, with the intent to sell the vehicle as soon as possible following the last date of service in August.
Elimination of bookmobile service is a national trend. The Indian Trails Library in Wheeling discontinued bookmobile service in 2010, and the Des Plaines Public Library retired its bookmobile in 2011.
Currently, library staff is making plans to add hours of service to the Rand Road Branch in the Palatine Opportunity Center, 1585 Rand Road. That branch opens at 10 or 11 a.m. weekday mornings and is not open Saturdays or Sundays. New branch hours will be announced once plans are finalized and approved.
Library Director Susan Strunk stated, "The bookmobile has been a valuable resource in the lives of its visitors over the years. This has not been an easy decision, yet as libraries and library services are evolving, some services need to end so that new services can develop and expand."
The Palatine Public Library District (www.palatinelibrary.org) is your destination for knowledge, entertainment, and community. The library serves approximately 90,000 residents, predominantly within the communities of Palatine and Hoffman Estates.