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Mobile library services to be discontinued



library-logo-5702623-2909777At its Dec. 16 meeting, the Washoe County Library System Board of Trustees voted to discontinue Mobile Services, including the bookmobile and on-site assisted-living library services, effective Jan. 4. This decision was made in response to continuing budget challenges facing the library system.

Due to severe budget cuts that took effect in July, the mobile library service route was reduced from 16 sites to the six most popular sites, delivering library service to families and school-aged children once every three weeks. Prior to the end of 2007, the mobile library visited 36 sites every two weeks. The minimal level of staff hours the library is able to devote to this service has resulted in steeply declining use figures; the decrease in customers from July 2008 to July 2009 was 72 percent.

The on-site program has delivered library service to residents and staff at six assisted-living facilities since June 2008.

“Unfortunately, the staff time required to maintain the collections, vehicles and patron services has remained at the same level as before the service reduction,” said Library Director Arnie Maurins. “By necessity, mobile library staff members are also working in other county libraries, and there isn’t enough time to devote to labor-intensive mobile services. The vehicle itself, now 10 years old, is deteriorating mechanically and the library system does not have funds to make needed repairs.”

Maurins added that staff has been working on other methods of outreach to serve the most vulnerable citizens in our community. “We have deposit collections at several agencies ranging from the Homeless Resource Center to Boys and Girls Club to Sun Valley Neighborhood Center. We are also exploring ways to use technology to reach out to the underserved as well as to the many people in our community who are suffering from the economic downturn.”

He continued, “The good news is that in the nine-plus years we have been serving the community with mobile services, we have introduced libraries to thousands of people. Many of these people now have library cards, and most will continue to use libraries and enjoy the many services we offer.” The three mobile library employees will be assigned to other library branches and services to fill in for staff shortages.

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