Nova Scotia

Bookmobile to stop running in Halifax area

The Halifax Public Library is taking its last bookmobile off the road.

The Halifax Public Library is taking its last bookmobile off the road.

The library said this week that the service, which brings a specially designed bus full of books, magazines and DVDs to rural areas not served by libraries, costs too much and serves too few.

About 170 families use the service and it costs $300,000 a year, the library said. Halifax Regional Municipality had covered the costs, but did not last year or this year. The library has absorbed the cost for the last year, but will stop footing the bill in September.

The five employees who work in the bookmobile will be laid off. People who are served by the bookmobile now will have to use Books by Mail or the closest branch.

Susan McLean, the director of the library's public services, said it was an inevitable sign of the times.

"The reality is people are not looking for mobile service anymore. There are people using it, no question, but most people are looking for a branch," she said.

50 years of service

Bookmobiles have been in Halifax since the 1960s and service areas from Sheet Harbour to Prospect. Of the roughly five million items borrowed annually from the library system, only one per cent are borrowed from the bookmobiles.

Maureen Yeadon lives a 25-minute drive from the nearest library branch and said she's disappointed the portable branch she's used for 10 years is ending.

"I'm very sad to hear it won't be coming to the community. It saves us a trip into the city, and it's one of the few services that I think is essential to the more rural areas of HRM," she said. 

Dave Raymer has worked in the bookmobile since 2005. He said the end of the service will be the end of a piece of history.

"My wife talks about it often, how as a five- and six-year-old she was on the bookmobile in Fall River," he said. "There will be ways to get their books to them, but there's going to be quite a few distraught over missing their bookmobile."