NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — Book lovers, a new, easy way to receive your favorite stories will be available through the "Mobile Library," New Bedford's Free Public Library outreach vehicle.

The Mobile Library debuted this week, expanding the New Bedford Bookmobile program.

In addition to books, it will deliver materials and other services to patrons who cannot visit the library, such as those who are homebound, have mobility challenges, or live in senior housing or similar residential facilities.

The idea to expand the Bookmobile program was born in 2019. The demand for this idea and a mobile library service became persistent after people were unable to access the library in person due to the pandemic.

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The Mobile Library is a Ford 500 Series van wrapped in design skin with slogans and a city logo, making its location easy to spot anywhere. Inside the Mobile Library are portable carts with a collection of books organized to meet the needs of patrons at each site. These carts can be wheeled outside or rolled into a lobby for easier access.

"This is another step in our effort to modernize our library system," Mayor Jon Mitchell said. "The Mobile Library ensures equitable access and brings library services to every New Bedford resident."

Since its debut, the Mobile Library has already begun delivering services to homebound residents in the North End and to others in nursing homes and senior living centers.

City of New Bedford
City of New Bedford

Library Director Olivia Melo said getting something smaller in size than the traditional bus-sized Bookmobile was a top priority over the three-year process of acquiring the Mobile Library.

"It's much easier to navigate city streets, and any member of the staff can drive it, whereas the larger vehicle required a driver with a Commercial Driver's License," she said. "New Bedford is fortunate to have five library buildings across the City to meet the needs of residents, but we were lacking a way to bring library services to those who find themselves unable to get to a library branch."

It will be a perfect addition to summer events in the city, such as festivals and parades. The Mobile Library will also be available throughout New Bedford to further promote the library and its services.

The Mobile Library was made possible through a $50,000 American Rescue Plan Act grant award through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and almost $80,000 from the State Aid to Public Libraries program.

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