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Bookmobile Is A Big Hit In Chicopee


The only public library bookmobile in western Massachusetts is back on the road for a second season.

Any notion that a bookmobile is a relic of a bygone era should be dispelled based on what has gone on in Chicopee since the city’s bookmobile hit the road last summer.

More than 10,000 patrons checked out over 7,600 books, DVDs, and ebooks at the bookmobile’s stops in neighborhood parks, at community organizations, and events like the city-sponsored movie night.

" We can't believe how happy the public is to see us," said Chicopee Library Director Nancy Contois.      Demand for the bookmobile service comes  from both adults and children.  Over 250 children signed-up for a reading program  last summer during bookmobile stops.

The bookmobile made occasional visits to the senior center and a few other places during the winter. A spring schedule that includes stops at parks began Monday.  When school is out of session next month, the bookmobile will begin a biweekly schedule of two 90-minute stops per day that will continue to the Friday before Labor Day.

" One of our most popular stops is the farmers' market down on Meadow Street, so we will be back there again this year," said Contois.

The bookmobile has room for 500-600 books and DVD’s. There are iPads for use in the vehicle and wi-fi for people to download books to their own readers, or go to the library website to request a book for delivery on the next bookmobile visit.

Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos said the response to the bookmobile in its first year is “heartwarming.”   He said it is a cost-effective way to bring library services to every neighborhood in the city.

" People now  recognize there is a schedule. They are coming and putting requests in to order books. It has just been a win-win," said Kos.

Kos accepted a check for $15,000 from the Polish National Credit Union Monday to underwrite the operation of the bookmobile for another season.  PNCU President and CEO Jim Kelly said he was thrilled the mobile library is such a big hit.

" We give a lot of careful thought to our community giving, but this is a no-brainer. There are just so many people in the community we can help with our donation to this mobile library," said Kelly.

School children have made hundreds of suggestions on naming the bookmobile, according to Contois. A name will be selected from among the suggestions by the library staff later this month.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.
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