Bookmobile's last ride was Aug. 31

University Heights Branch Manager Sara Phillips, Youth Services Librarian Hannah Van Jura, and Security Guard and bookmobile driver Keith Acey (from left).

For nearly a year, University Heights residents visited “Nellie,” a 1995 Freightliner Chassis turned bookmobile, to check out books and other library materials.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System purchased Nellie—named for popular former Heights Librarian Nell Lynch—in June 2016, to provide University Heights residents access to library materials while the University Heights branch underwent extensive renovations.

With the University Heights branch scheduled to re-open in late October, Nellie made her last stop on Aug. 31.

Nellie’s bookshelves held a modest but varied selection of books, DVDs and audiobooks for children, teens and adults, and also offered work stations and a portable hotspot, enabling residents to check out and return library materials.

University Heights Branch Manager Sara Phillips, a reference librarian, and Keith Acey, a book-loving security guard with experience driving large vehicles, comprised the bookmobile’s staff. Youth Services Librarian Hannah Van Jura, and other staff, often rode along as well.

Beginning last October, Nellie’s regular stops throughout University Heights included apartment complexes, parks, grocery stores and other public areas. Not surprisingly, she attracted a number of loyal customers along the way.

“We spend time here every Thursday,” Patrick and Regina Giraldo-Garcia said, their two young sons absorbed in their books. “We pick up movies, we pick up books, we chat. We’ve become good friends with the bookmobile staff, and we always enjoy our time here.”

The Giraldo-Garcia family frequently visits Heights Libraries' University Heights branch, and was delighted to discover Nellie making weekly stops at the Huntington Green Apartment complex just a block from their home. The bookmobile offered them regular access to library materials during the University Heights Library’s temporary closure. 

Despite Nellie’s relatively brief tenure, the bookmobile had a significant impact on the University Heights community. In all, Nellie made 207 stops in University Heights, served nearly 2,000 community members, and circulated more than 3,200 items. For residents who grew fond of visiting her, Nellie’s last ride was bittersweet—while they’re sad to see her go, they’re also looking forward to the re-opening of the University Heights branch.

“We’ve had a very nice experience here,” said Regina Giraldo-Garcia. “We’re going to miss the bookmobile, but we’re also thrilled that we are going to have a new building, and we’re looking forward to making the most of the new facilities.”

Now that Nellie is no longer needed, the library plans to sell her back to Farber Specialty Vehicles in Columbus, from which it purchased the bookmobile. Farber representatives indicated that a youth-serving organization is interested in her.

Jay Rosen

Jay Rosen is communications coordinator at Heights Libraries.

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Volume 10, Issue 10, Posted 10:38 AM, 09.19.2017