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.

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.

I knew the end was near when the tow truck drivers started smiling and waving whenever they passed me on the road.  Our good old ELF (extreme low floor) bookmobile died last April, 2016.  A broken part was no longer replaceable, so that was the end.  It had been towed to the City Yard to find out if they could fix it and when it was determined that they couldn’t, I had to fetch it back to the library.  It was the scariest 20 minutes of my life!  The vehicle was all askew and I didn’t dare go over 20 mph.  I made it safely back and told my Director, my part-time helper, and anyone in the parking lot that no one is ever driving that vehicle again!  My assistant and I proceeded to empty the big bus and get the minivan ready to substitute (our “mini-mobile” as the patrons like to call it).

The Library went through the process of putting the old bus up for sale and, once it had been emptied, it needed to go back to the City Yard until a buyer was found.  The intrepid Billy (who does all the mechanical work) decided it needed to go out in style.  Over my protests, he decided to drive it back to the Yard.  The Yard had an intern at the time and the young man had come with Billy to make the ride back.  Before they took off, Billy preset all the radio stations to country and rock and roll, since he knew there was an exterior speaker up on the roof.  Billy cranked it up, blasted the music outside, and started down Rte 29.   (They were followed by a regular City truck, just in case.)  Each time the radio station would come up on a commercial, Billy pushed the next button to keep the music going.  They stopped behind a Jeep at one red light and totally confused the driver, who couldn’t figure out from whence the music came.  At another intersection, the homeless woman who was panhandling knew the source immediately.  She jumped up and danced through the song, giving Billy a grin and a big thumbs up when the light finally changed.  Meanwhile, the young intern was sinking lower and lower in his passenger seat.  Luckily, they made it back safely.  Later, the bookmobile was bought by a junk yard in Lynchburg to be sold for parts.   It was towed to its final resting place!

It’s been a long year in the minivan and we all, staff and patrons alike, eagerly await the arrival of a new vehicle next month.  Meanwhile, we have good stories and fond memories of the old bus.  RIP, Moby Dick!