Rochester’s new Bookmobile

Did you know that Rochester’s Public Library is the busiest in the state of Minnesota?  Did you know that our Bookmobile by itself would be the 4th busiest library in Southeastern Minnesota?

Times are challenging right now yet the city council just purchased a new $385,000 Bookmobile (this included all consulting, design, travel, etc.). This does have all the bells and whistles.  The drive train is Hybrid electric / clean diesel, some power is generated by a solar array.  With the batteries and solar, thousands of hours of idling will be avoided.  Everything on the vehicle is heavy duty to ensure a 20 year life.

Was this a good investment?

I think so, but lets study the issue.

Our old bookmobile was pretty well shot, with heavy usage comes heavy abuse.  Most library systems that approach the size of the Rochester Public Library begin to open new locations.  The problem is that in tough times they are hard to close.  Further; population and demographics can change significantly over time.  With the Bookmobile we get 77 other locations, admittedly with more limited service.  Because we are a AAA rated city we can bond at about 3% right now.  This means that if we amortized the vehicle cost over its life it cost us less than $26,000 per year.  Basically we get 77 library locations in a state of the art, efficient vehicle for less than the cost of a custodian at a branch location.  The vehicle also gives us the ability to target areas that need access to materials the most, even if those areas change.

In my opinion staff at the Rochester Public Library did a great job in looking out for the best interests of the city.  What do you think?

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