City of New Bedford photo.

New Bedford’s bookmobile to deliver library services across the city

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“NEW BEDFORD – The New Bedford Free Public Library recently debuted its new outreach vehicle, the Mobile Library. An expansion of the Bookmobile program, the Mobile Library delivers books, materials, and other services to patrons who are unable to visit the library, such as those who are homebound, have mobility challenges or live in senior housing or other similar residential facilities.

The idea to expand the Bookmobile program was born in 2019, and the demand for services during the pandemic, when many people called who were unable to access the library in person, further highlighted the persistent need.

“This is another step in our effort to modernize our library system,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said. “The Mobile Library ensures equitable access and brings library services to every New Bedford resident.”

The Mobile Library is a Ford 500 Series van wrapped in an attractive, inviting design skin. Donned with slogans and a City logo, the Mobile Library has room inside for portable carts with a collection of books curated to meet the needs of patrons at each site. These carts can be wheeled outside, or rolled into a lobby, for easier access.

Library Director Olivia Melo said getting something smaller in size than the traditional bus-sized Bookmobile was a top priority over the three-year process of acquiring the Mobile Library.

“It’s much easier to navigate city streets, and any member of the staff can drive it, whereas the larger vehicle required a driver with a Commercial Driver’s License,” she said. “New Bedford is fortunate to have five library building across the City to meet the needs of residents, but we were lacking a way to bring library services to those who find themselves unable to get to a library branch.”

The Mobile Library has already started delivery services to homebound residents in the North End and to others in nursing homes and senior living centers. It will also be a common sight this summer when it attends festivals, parades and events throughout the City to promote the library and its services.

The Mobile Library was made possible through a $50,000 American Rescue Plan Act grant award through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and almost $80,000 from the State Aid to Public Libraries program.

For questions about scheduling a visit from the Mobile Library, please contact Ned Denby, branch manager, at 508-991-6274. For inquiries about having it attend events, please contact Karen Tolman, senior branch manager, at 508-991-6214.” -City of New Bedford.

About Michael Silvia

Served 20 years in the United States Air Force. Owner of New Bedford Guide.

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