by Lisa Tome
With no fanfare and no notice Arne Anderson and the Cecil County Public Library's new Bookmobile appeared in the Old Schoolhouse Lane neighborhood in Port Deposit on Saturday.
It was the first time in about a year that he'd been able to visit.
The old bookmobile couldn't travel the winding hill and speed humps in the neighborhood. Anderson said he missed it.
"This is one of the first places I went when I started (working for the library) 11 years ago. But it's one of the places I go with the bookmobile that serves children and adults. It's Saturday morning so maybe I can catch them at home," said Anderson.
The brand new bookmobile was ready to debut.
Samia Wallen, 10, was the first person in the neighborhood to see the bookmobile. Wallen told Anderson he hadn't been there in a while and said she missed it.
"This is one of my favorite communities and I go to 10 or 15. I've been coming here the longest. The people here are so appreciative and it makes me feel good," said Anderson. Kevin Jones, 17, climbed aboard the bookmobile accompanying his younger sister. The pair have been going to the bookmobile for years and Anderson noticed how much they had grown. "This is much more compact," said Jones, whose head touches the ceiling of the new unit. "The kids are polite, nice, and respectful. They always have been," said Anderson.
Peyton Walter, 13, was seeking books. "I like to read. We don't have to go out. I'm glad he's coming back." said Walter.
The new bookmobile is smaller. But it has features the old bookmobile didn't, Anderson's seat spins so he can serve the patrons better. There's also a wheelchair lift which serves people and makes loading and unloading books a lot easier.
The new bookmobile is eight feet shorter than the older model, at 22 feet, and it's now three feet shorter, at nine feet. Anderson said that makes things easier with bridges and overpasses. But it still holds the same amount of materials, on rolling locked carts.
"It's more modern, up to date, and drivable. It handles better in traffic. It's easier to change out materials and the items are lower for children," he said.
In the low income neighborhoods no library card is required. Children, teens, and adults just climb aboard and get books.
And although there is no checkout, nobody leaves the bookmobile without saying goodbye to Anderson. Everybody gets their hands stamped with a scented ink pad.
"Everybody wants their hand stamped. It's part of the bookmobile experience. I started doing it one day and I haven't stopped," he said.
Once, the old bookmobile broke down and had to be towed. Those who worked for the towing company were from Old Schoolhouse Lane and are now adults. "I like to watch the kids grow up and become successful," he said.