In the community

On the road again: New Ontario library bookmobile getting out and about in Malheur County

ONTARIO – A new bookmobile now on the road will help the Ontario Community Library reach more children and adults across the county to promote literacy.

The $500,000 vehicle is larger and carries more equipment then the 25-year-old bookmobile the library used since 1998.

“We knew this was going to happen so we’ve been saving for it,” said Darlyne Johnson, library director.

The old bookmobile was beginning to suffer mechanical problems and was cramped for space, said Jani Degler, who drives the vehicle.

Ontario Library District Bookmobile driver Jani Degler talks about the advantages of the new vehicle, Thursday, Feb. 22. The district purchased the new bookmobile in December. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL

“If you got more than 10 kids in there they were tripping over everyone,” said Degler.

The old bookmobile was 25 feet long and converted from a former Bluebird bus. The new vehicle is 36 feet long and has as a stereo system, big-screen TV, and upgraded heating and air conditioning. The bookmobile also uses a camera system to aid in safety.

The bookmobile partially relies on solar panels for power.

“It is a huge upgrade. The old bus strictly relied on a generator for electricity. It is nice not to have to run the generator when I am parked outside of a school. Now the battery and solar panels kept it charged up,” said Degler.

Johnson said the library began to consider buying a new bookmobile last year.

“We didn’t know it (a new bookmobile) would be that much but we wanted to be sure we were prepared for the future,” said Johnson.

The new bookmobile contains between 600 and 1,000 books, said Johnson.

The Ontario Library District’s new bookmobile offers more inside space and is a more reliable vehicle then the older model built in the late 1990s. The district purchased the new bookmobile in December. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL)

The books cover all ages and the television allows library staff to show movies and slide shows.

Johnson said the bookmobile is busy.

“It goes to Jordan Valley, Harper, Adrian, Willowcreek, nursing homes and outlying schools like Pioneer and Annex or Four Rivers Cultural Center,” said Johnson.

The bookmobile is on the road about 35 hours a week, said Degler.

“This gets us outreach, gets literacy out to people who can’t come into the library.” said Johnson.

Degler said the new vehicle is popular.

The Ontario Library District used $500,000 to buy a new bookmobile in December. The new vehicle replaces a 25-year-old bookmobile. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL)

“All the kids have been so excited. There is more room. The other bookmobile was kind of dingy and hard to see inside. Now I have room to put in more shelves,” said Degler.

Degler said what she likes best about the new vehicle is its “lightness and airiness.”
“It is comfortable and you don’t feel like you are crawling into a dungeon. The kids don’t feel crowded,” said Degler.

To find out the schedule for the bookmobile, go to the library web page at 

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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