After summer slowdown, bookmobiles back on the road in Towson

After taking the slower-paced summertime to reassess how to best allocate its mobile services, the Baltimore County library system will be upping its stops in Towson, a library official said.

The mobile libraries will double their monthly visits at the Blakehurst, Edenwald, Oak Crest, and Pickersgill communities.

Julie Brophy, adult and community engagement manager for the Baltimore County library system, said the changes are part of a system-wide effort to allocate mobile services to places with the highest need.

“We were doing a really intense kind of look at how we are using our taxpayer resources,” Brophy said.

The “bookmobiles,” as they are colloquially called, are trucks filled with books that travel around the county in order to provide library services to people unable to travel to one of the system’s 19 branches including the Blakehurst, Edenwald, Oak Crest, and Pickersgill assisted-living communities.

The program primarily serves seniors, but bookmobiles also visit facilities for other groups such as young people and those with disabilities.

Bookmobiles visit locations at different intervals based on demand. But in June, the library scaled back to once a month all mobile services, including to the 55 to 60 senior facilities, Brophy said. The move allowed staff to reassess which destinations had high demand and which were only serving only a couple people.

County Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson, said when the library cut down from weekly to monthly its visits to senior assisted-living facilities people were unhappy.

“Many of our residents no longer drive, so frequent appearances of the bookmobile was an event to which they eagerly looked forward,” said F. Carvel Payne, president of Towson continuing care community at Edenwald. “The library system wanted to cut back our service to just once per month and the residents raised an outcry.”

Marks said he worked with the library to bring its visits up to twice per month, what he called a “compromise.”

Brophy, however, said restoring more frequent bookmobile visits was “all part of the plan.”

The library system took the summer to examine circulation data and survey managers of the senior living facilities it visits, she said.

That research led to three or four stops being added to the bookmobile route, Brophy said, including the Woodstock Jobs Corps Center and a facility for adults with disabilities.

“We love our seniors, don’t get me wrong,” Brophy said. “But we’re also trying to serve other communities who need us.”

asolomon@baltsun.com

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