Tales from the Road

bookmobile general 3

Life on the bookmobile is a bit different from the other JMRL branches. We all have our ups and downs, our good days and bad, but there are some situations one only encounters out on the road.

Yes, the new bookmobile is here!  We’re still going through our adjustment phase, the new bus and I.  It has that new car smell and drives like a dream.  And there’s air conditioning, even if I haven’t quite figured out where to point the vents so that I don’t blow my patrons away.  There are shelves to browse and folks can step inside and feel like they’re in a library again.  When they ask me if I love it, though, my reply has been “I’ll get there.”

You may remember that the vehicle stayed at the City Yard for two full weeks before I got to bring it ‘home.’   On the day it was delivered from Ohio, I sat in the Yard with the Farber rep while he went over all the buttons and switches on the dashboard – and it all made perfect sense.  Two and a half weeks later, when I took it out on the road for the first time,  it took me 20 minutes at my first stop to remember how to turn on the interior lights.  And it was three stops before I could get the air conditioning going.  It felt the same as when someone shows me something new on the computer.  “Click here, then drag this over, then save it and you’re done!”  It all seems reasonable at the moment, but when I try to repeat the process by myself later, somehow it doesn’t work quite as well.

The ‘check engine’ light has been on twice already and I’ve had to swing by the Yard.  One time, it was a hose that had come loose and was easily fixable.  The other time, though, was more curious.  Billy (the Wonder Mechanic) plugged in the tablet to get a reading of the problem and the machine said something about fumes escaping.  It took us forever but he finally realized that the cap for the fuel tank needs to be turned a bit beyond the click.  (I almost entitled this piece “Beyond the Click!”)  Yes, after we fill the tank and have turned the cap until it clicks, we have to continue turning just a smidge more – not even a quarter turn – so that the seal is tight.  As they say, it’s all in the details.

I have been out on the road, following my regular schedule, and everyone is very happy!  One of my patrons brought cookies to share as a celebration!  I stopped at one of the preschools and pulled up along the curb as usual.  These kids had not ever seen the old bookmobile, they only knew me in the minivan.  I heard them talking out on the playground.  “What’s that RV doing there?”  “How come that RV came to our school?”  I poked my head out to say hello and they wanted to know what I had in “that RV.”  They were thrilled to come inside to find stacks of books!

I continue to adjust shelves and rearrange materials.  It’s still white, although we did get some magnetic strips for identification.  The most often asked question has been “Aren’t you going to decorate it?” and I explain that it’s in the works.  It’s been two weeks now, so I’m beginning to feel the regular routine – switch this on, hold this button, check that toggle, don’t forget to turn this one off when I get back.  Folks from some of the branches have been by to see it; I stopped at the Friends of the Library meeting to show it off (they had been very generous in their support!)  Next week, the Library Board will visit during their regular meeting upstairs.  So we’re getting there.  And yes, I do love it!




Patience, patience


bookmobile general 3

Life on the bookmobile is a bit different from the other JMRL branches.  We all have our ups and downs, our good days and bad, but there are some situations one only encounters out on the road.

Yes, I’m practicing patience these days.  Our new Sprinter van arrived in Charlottesville on Friday, May 26, 2017.  A very nice man (whose name I’ve already forgotten because it was almost two weeks ago!) from Farber drove it from Ohio to the City Yard here in town.  After a number of missed phone calls, I met Billy (the mechanic) and the Director and the Business Manager from JMRL over at the Yard and got my first glimpse of the new vehicle.  It’s so clean and shiny!!  We were given a ‘tour’ and explanations of all the lights and buttons on the dashboard.  The wheelchair lift was demonstrated and I got to peek under the hood.  He even let me drive it around the parking lot.  So I was ready, absolutely ready to bring it back to the office and get it loaded up.  But no, the City guys still had to go to the DMV and process all the paperwork.  We need license plates and insurance and to be sure we have the invoice, so it can belong to us.  Patience, patience.

Monday was a holiday, the Yard was busy for the rest of the week – so what if the fuel pumps weren’t pumping properly! – and then we were at another weekend.  I only bugged them once, the first week.  I’ve been back over there several times already this week.  I have the owner’s manual, booklets about the radio and clock, four keys, and I still can’t bring it to the garage.  Patience, patience.

We had decided to have the wrap done locally, so the new Sprinter is very white.  Have I mentioned how clean and shiny it is ?!!?  Abby (whom the followers of this blog already know) is working on some designs and I am absolutely prepared to drive it around plain white while she’s creating the graphics.   If I can get a couple magnetic strips that say BOOKMOBILE, that will be fine.  I’m ready.  Patience, patience.

Local Stories


The 2017 Nelson County Historical Society Homes and Properties Tour will be focused on Faber and Schuyler this Saturday, which brings to mind Nelson’s favorite son Earl Hamner Jr.  JMRL has a collection of his novels and memoirs, as well as the dvd collection of the television hit based on his life, “The Waltons.”  Here are some other nice collections of local stories which you might enjoy:

Backroads series  by Lynn COFFEY

When Coffey moved to Love, VA in 1980, she settled right in and embraced the culture and the people of this tiny mountain town which calls itself the “Crest of the Blue Ridge.”  Inspired by the way of life of the hard-working folks around her, she began to gather their stories and publish them in a monthly newspaper she called “Backroads.”   For 25 years, her neighbors shared their tales, taught their skills, and even posed for pictures, and Coffey preserved it all.  In 2009, she published a collection of these tales in Backroads: Plain Folk and Simple Livin’ which was followed in the next few years by two more volumes.

A Legacy of Rural Virginia  by Donald W. PAYNE

In two volumes, Payne’s collection is subtitled “Simpler Times Laced with Hardships and Happiness” which just about says it all.  Having grown up in Fluvanna County, Payne was always interested in the lives of the elders and happy to listen to them tell their stories. His work covers the 1800’s and 1900’s and includes many old photographs.

Best Little Stories from Virginia  by C. Brian KELLY

Journalist Kelly takes the history of our Commonwealth even further back, to the 16th century.  With extensive footnotes, bibliography, and timelines, Virginia’s history is again told through a series of stories.  It also contains a section entitled “The Women Who Counted.”  This volume is one is a series of “Best Little Stories” books that Kelly has written.

Greetings from Charlottesville, Virginia and Albemarle County  by Samuel MENEFEE

Menefee has collected over 300 postcards from the area, dating back to the early 1900’s, with some expected sights and some which might surprise you.  Menefee describes postcards as “Windows to the Past.”  Be sure to note the cards of the “Post Office, Charlottesville” on page 47 – it’s now the Central Library!