Elgin library will purchase bookmobile
A "gently used" bookmobile will serve Gail Borden Public Library District residents, most likely starting in April.
The library board approved Tuesday the $155,000 purchase of the bookmobile, a 2014 model with under 30,000 miles previously used by a library in Ohio. The plan is to launch it April 10, which is National Bookmobile Day.
"It's nice to think as a bookmobile as an amenity … but I really don't feel this is the case in our situation," Library Executive Director Carole Medal said. "This mobile library will serve the children in our community, and there is a real need."
Library spokeswoman Denise Raleigh cited data from the 2017 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test, which showed that fewer than 33 percent of third- through eighth-grade students in Elgin Area School District U-46 met or exceeded standards in English and math.
"We understand the challenge that U-46 has," Raleigh said. "... This is not to disparage anything. This is part of the solution."
The bookmobile won't focus only on children. "We want participation going to all ages, senior centers, people who have transportation challenges," she said. "We will also have digital gadgets and technology, to show how to stream and use the library better."
Total startup cost is about $221,000, including $55,000 for the bookmobile collection. The purchase is funded by special reserves, Medal said, adding that she expects much of that to be offset by fundraising by the library's foundation and community donations.
A bookmobile was in use in the 1960s when the Elgin library shared it with other libraries, officials said. The library worked with local legislators on funding for a bookmobile in 2014, but "at the eleventh hour it was yanked," Medal said.
The nearly 34-foot bookmobile -- it can hold 3,500 to 4,000 books -- is expected to last another 15 to 23 years and is a rare find, because typically bookmobiles are used until "the end of their life," Medal said. A new one costs about $250,000, she said.
The library serves 65 square miles in Elgin, South Elgin and portions of Hoffman Estates, Streamwood and Bartlett. Board members asked how decisions will be made about who is served by the bookmobile.
The plan is to create a community advisory council including the Housing Authority of Elgin to determine the highest need, said Miriam Lytle, who's in charge of community services for the library. Library staff also will look at heat maps about the location of students least ready for kindergarten.
"Should we take a minute and think about what we just did," board president Jean Bednar said. "We collectively bought a giant bus."