By November, the Pierce County Library System will be out of the bookmobile business.
Cutbacks began in January, when 11 stops were eliminated to save money.
The library announced Thursday that it will eliminate all remaining bookmobile services by mid-November.
That includes regular stops at local schools.
“Sadly, we can no longer afford to run bookmobiles,” library director Neel Parikh said in a news release.
“It tugs at my heart,” said customer service director Sally Porter Smith.
She said the libraries are talking to schools in the Bethel, Clover Park and Franklin Pierce school districts about how to continue service to kids in those schools without the bookmobiles. She said services will vary, depending on what each school or district needs.
Some schools have asked for books and materials for their after-school programs, for example.
“We are talking about the options that would work best with them,” she said.
But the large bookmobile vehicles are aging and costly to operate, library officials say. Putting the brakes on bookmobiles this fall will save the library an estimated $180,000 in its 2013 budget, they add. It will eliminate the full-time equivalent of 2.93 positions and save on fuel and vehicle maintenance.
The library system faces a shortfall of between $2.6 million and $3 million in the coming year, the news release said. That’s an estimated 10 percent of its anticipated operating budget.
“The bookmobiles have been a personal, friendly and valued service for 65 years,” Parikh said in the release. “We now serve people in many different ways.”
She noted that patrons can download books directly to mobile devices and check out materials from 18 branches countywide.
The library estimates that less than 1 percent of its 256,000 card holders use the bookmobiles, which had primarily served low-income neighborhoods in central Pierce County and Lakewood.debbie.cafazzo@ thenewstribune.com 253-597-8635