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Cash sought to replace Coquitlam Public Library book bus
With the backing of a community petition and letters of support from dozens of residents, Coquitlam Public Library (CPL) is launching an appeal to raise money for a book bus to replace one badly damaged by fire in May.
The decision to replace the bus at an estimated cost of about $80,000 for a used vehicle comes as the library struggles with ways to reach out to far flung corners of the city, where the population is growing but services aren't available.
CPL director Todd Gnissios said the the city's Cottonwood neighbourhood, where many refugees and newcomers live, and the Burke Mountain neighbourhood, home to young families, both need access to library services and a mobile book bus is one way to deliver them at a relatively low cost.
"I passionately believe in the ability of a mobile library to go out in to the community to provide a service to people who can't get to a library or don't always think about the library and what it can do for them," he said.
The success of the book bus in reaching hard-to-serve neighbourhoods is evident in in the statistics, according to Gnissios, who pointed out that last year, the book bus tallied 4,579 patron visits and circulated 13,649 items in just a few hours each week at each location. (In west Coquitlam, the bus stops at Cottonwood Park; in Burke Mountain, the bus goes to Tri-City Family Place on Victoria Drive).
Since July 1, the library has been renting a vehicle at a cost of $500 a month but
Deputy director Silvana Harwood with a letter of support.
Gnissios would like CPL to buy a bus as soon as possible. His plan is to find a used replacement vehicle and believes insurance on the old one will cover most of the costs.
Still, community donations will be needed to fully outfit the new bus.
Gnissios is also seeking interest from a major corporate sponsor to see if it would be possible to purchase a brand new vehicle for about $250,000, a preferable option because a second-hand vehicle would need to be replaced sooner.
Many community members support the plan: More than 130 people signed a petition calling for a replacement and Gnissios said he has received cards and letters of support from many residents. The library has even received one donation of $33 from a five-year-old.
Once operating, the book bus service could even be expanded to seniors' care homes, daycares and food banks. That would please Gnissios, who said it's the library's mission to reach out to everyone in the community to promote creativity, discovery and knowledge.
Coquitlam Public Library continues to reinvent itself in the age of digital media and the internet according to recent statistics in its annual report.
Public internet use