New Bedford's beloved rolling library had the brakes slammed on its operation last March due to the pandemic but it is gearing up to make its grand return later this month.

Dan Wieghmink, the bookmobile's driver, said that he and a librarian will be back on the road and eager to get back to the book-lending business.

"Our operation will look a little bit different than it used to, but we'll still be able to let kids onto the bus in small groups to look at the books in a safe, socially distance way. We'll do the check-out process outside of the bus at a table," he said.

Pre-pandemic, Wieghmink said the bookmobile was regularly out and about the New Bedford area for about 25 hours each week, with book circulation numbers close to 3,000 books checked out each month. It is one of less than 300 bookmobiles left in the United States.

"For the expense of it, New Bedford is very lucky to still have the book mobile," he said. "The kids really enjoy it and adults love to visit for all of the memories it brings back from when they were kids. We hope to get back to our pre-pandemic circulation numbers but aren't quite sure what our new normal will be yet."

Kids will still be able to sign-up for a library card at the bookmobile, too. As long as a parent or legal guardian can sign the child's slip, the librarian can give that child their own library card right on the spot. From there, they can go on board the bus and look at the books. If you have a SAILS library card already, you may check things out just like you would at any other local libraries.

"If anyone in New Bedford wants to request a stop in their neighborhood by contact Wilks Library Branch Manager Karen Stefanik, the bookmobile's coordinator," Wieghmink said. "Now's a good time to do it, too, because then we have an idea of who wants us where."

Find the bookmobile's schedule or suggest a stop by contacting the Wilks Library here.

SouthCoast's Little Free Libraries

Across the SouthCoast, stewards of Little Free Libraries are sharing their love of reading with their neighbors and keep these great little resources stocked with books for everyone to enjoy.