Bookmobile continues

Bookmobile service will continue in Ben Avon for at least the next two years, despite the decision of the borough council to eliminate funding for it.

For the past several years, a small volunteer group, Friends of the Ben Avon Bookmobile, has been raising money for the bookmobile and encouraging patrons to take advantage of its services. Last fall, the Friends launched a successful on-line "Indiegogo" campaign and a direct appeal to area residents Several foundations and organizations, including the Avon Club, made significant donations. The largest single contribution came from Ben Avon residents Jane France and Chris Allison.

The campaign collected $13,270, enough to cover more than two years of bi-weekly service.

The bookmobile makes a one-hour stop at 11 a.m. every second Saturday in the 7200 block of Church Avenue, near the Ben Avon Volunteer Fire Co. station.

Bookmobile service is managed by the non-profit Allegheny County Library Association, which is separate from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. The library association has just put into service a reconditioned bookmobile acquired from the Palatine Public Library District in Illinois. The 10-year-old vehicle has been driven only 17,000 miles and replaces a 1992 vehicle with 139,000 miles on it.

Library Association vehicles make 106 regular stops in 49 municipalities across Allegheny County. They include visits to 55 Head-Start and pre-school facilities, 46 senior citizen buildings and five community stops, including Ben Avon. The bookmobiles last year circulated almost 80,000 items and reported 19,000 visits.

The Ben Avon Friends' fund-raising efforts drew praise from Marilyn Jenkins, executive director of the Library Association. "We are very happy to see so much local support for the bookmobile," she said. "And we thank the Friends for their leadership."

The campaign in Ben Avon represents the first time a community group has sought to raise all the funds needed to retain bookmobile service, she said.

Bookmobile service remains important to many people, especially senior citizens and young children who otherwise might not have access to libraries, Jenkins said. "Even in this day when it seems like everyone is driving, some people cannot get out as readily," she said. "Our goal is to make sure library service is available for everybody."

For more information contact BABookmobile@gmail.com or on Twitter @BABookmobile.

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