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End of the line: Bookmobile comes to stop

After nearly four decades, the Briggs Lawrence County Public Library is ending the bookmobile service.

Library Director Joe Jenkins, for one is sad to see it go but said it wasn’t an easy decision.

“It’s never easy to make changes to any kind of services we do, especially something as long running as this,” he said. “And I regret it because we are going to have to lay off the bookmobile driver because we don’t have anything else he can move into.”

The reasons are the high cost of fuel and maintenance of the vehicle, the expansion of library branches to all parts of the county, and there isn’t as much demand for the service as it once was. And another issue is that the bus has around 100,000 miles and was coming to the end of its useful mechanical life.

“It is expensive to keep old vehicles running and the way gas prices have been for the past two years, it didn’t seem like there was any end in sight on how much we were going to pour into the bookmobile,” Jenkins said.

The library board was faced with the decision of buying a new bus or ending the bookmobile. In the end, the board decided it was time to end the bookmobile service since it would cost around $190,000 to buy a replacement vehicle.

The library bookmobile service began in the early 1970’s by the Ohio Valley Area Libraries. In the early 1990s, bookmobile operations were taken over by Briggs Library, which only had a branch in Ironton. Since then the library expanded to have branches in Proctorville, South Point, Chesapeake and Willow Wood.

Jenkins said the number of people who use the bookmobile has been steadily declining for several years.

“We tried to do some things to change that but it just didn’t look like it could continue,” he said.

He added the library’s focus would be reaching out to readers from the library branches.

“We have expanded our offerings over the past five or six years and I think that is the trend we are going with,” he said. “We are going to move one of our employees into children’s services and try to expand our outreach into the Head Starts and daycare centers on a regular basis.”

The library is considering expanding its services to homebound residents by having a homebound delivery service.

The library hopes to keep the bookmobile running until the end of the month, but if the stop in your area is missed, please call them at (740) 532-1124, 867-3080, or (740) 533-0363 and leave your name and address, and the library will make arrangements to come to your home and pick up any bookmobile materials, or they can be dropped off at the nearest branch library if preferred.

No overdue fines will be charged to patrons from this change.