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Traveling Librarian Covers County Area, 1970

Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


Traveling Librarian Covers County Area

"It's a very personal thing," says Mrs. Vera Dickerson about her job as head librarian of the Allegany County Library's bookmobile.

"In the ten years I've been on the bookmobile," she says, "I have never met one unpleasant person. It's very personal and you have to like all kinds of people."

Mrs. Dickerson and her assistant, Miss Deborah Sell, have no doubt made many friends on their rounds, including one lady who has been a regular for years.

"We have been stopping at the end of her road for seven or eight years," Mrs. Dickerson says, "and she has missed only once.. We meet her every two weeks on Thursday at 1:15."

On another "unscheduled" stop, the bookmobile stops so that Mrs. Dickerson can take in books to an elderly, shut-in lady. "This is just an extension of the service," she says. "We have a couple of people we do this for."

Patrons are not unappreciative either. "We have one lady on our route," she says, "with a chicken that lays colored eggs. . .and that's my Easter present every year—a colored egg."

Such expressions are not uncommon. "We have quite a few gifts of produce through the year."

On many trips, especially to Eckhart School, Little Orleans and Piney Plains, "we have people walk as much as a mile or a mile and a half to meet the bookmobile. This is also true at Oldtown," she says.

Cresaptown School is the bookmobile's "biggest" stop during the school term. Each class lets out for 15 minutes, in turn, so that students can visit the bookmobile. During the term, they stop at one school per day, either in the morning of the afternoon.

However, Mrs. Dickerson says the "adult" stops are more personal. "If somebody dies or gets married, I always know. It's just like friends. You get to know everybody."

The unit is often on the road for seven hours at a time during the summer, but usually only two hours or less are spent daily moving from one stop to another. The unit travels more during the school term. "We both drive," Mrs. Dickerson says. "This always causes some comment about 'women driving that big truck,' but it's really not as difficult as it seems."

Prior to her employment at the Allegany County Library, Mrs. Dickerson was at the LaVale Library, then independent.

"Miss (Mary) Walsh called me," she said, "and asked me if I would take the bookmobile... and I was the first one on it."

Miss Walsh, sister of Bishop James E. Walsh, was the first librarian at the Allegany County unit. She retired several years ago.

The bookmobile travels about 10,000 miles a year, says Robert L. Neal, Allegany County Library director. It covers the entire county, making 59 stops in summer and 44 the rest of the year, every two weeks.

The current unit, the county's first, will be replaced soon—a new bookmobile is already on order.

"You just don't go out and pick one," Mr. Neal says. "You must select the body and the chassis separately, then have the two combined by the body manufacturer."

The present bookmobile (which once, when it was new, traveled around the county for several weeks without license plates) has a capacity of 1,800 volumes, with 4,815 backup books—all different. It cost about $10,000.

Delivery of the unit is expected in December. It will carry 2,600 books and costs $22,451.

"The county commissioners," Mr. Neal says, "have given the library $10,000 toward the purchase of this vehicle. The remainder of the funds were set aside by the library board of trustees over a 10-year period." Circulation from July 1, 1969 to June 30, 1970 was 79,507 volumes, an increase of 6,905 over the previous year.

Bookmobile users are not limited to the selection on the unit alone. Any volume in the county library is available, and starting January 1, 1971, books will be available from a facility serving Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties.

Located in Hagerstown, the Western Maryland Library will be housed in the Washington County Library, with Mrs. Mary Malloy [Mallery] serving as head librarian.

The State of Maryland has allocated $100,000 for books, films, slides, film strips and audio-visual material to be' located there.

Cumberland would have been an ideal site, location-wise, Mr. Neal said but "facilities (here) aren't big enough."


James Goldsworthy, Cumberland Evening Times


Collection Location:

Public libraries, Maryland, Allegany County; Allegany county Library System (Md.), Anniversaries.

Allegany County (Md,), 1960-2010

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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