PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- For the better part of two decades, a large truck packed full of books used to make the rounds in underserved neighborhoods in the city, delivering books to kids and senior citizens. In the early 1990's that service stopped, but now its sleeker, smarter sibling has arrived to restart the bookmobile program.
"When I was much younger, I used to love when the bookmobile came to my neighborhood," stated Portland Mayor Michael Brennan. He says the bookmobile will help students retain information learned during the school year by keeping them engaged in learning and reading all year long.
"The bookmobile will enable us to do a broad range of programs in neighborhoods with partners that address topics ranging from health, financial education, history and science," explained Steve Podgajny, the executive director of the Portland Public Library.
The bookmobile is equipped with a lift to help disabled patrons climb aboard and browse its stacks which will be able to bring roughly 1,700 books along on each journey.
The van is also outfitted with a computer and wireless internet capabilities that will allow library staff to expand the programs they are able to offer.
"This is all beginning again, what we used to do," said Jim Charette, who drove the original bookmobile around for about a dozen years.
He says this service helps people get connected with the library and its programming and will be especially well received by parents who have a hard time finding time to get good books for their kids to read.
"The internet, e-books have been concentrating heavily on adults," he explained. "There is not as much available for children."
The bookmobile's schedule is still being refined, but it will open its doors to the public for the first time in Monument Square on Friday, April 5th during the First Friday Art Walk.
The bookmobile's return was made possible by a large donation by Key Bank and through funding from the library's funds.