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Advice from the List

Q: How do I estimate the life expectancy of our bookmobile? | A

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Q: Does anyone know of cooperative bookmobile services across counties, across states or between public libraries and schools?

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Bookmobile FAQs

Questions and responses composed of words of wisdom and advice from various respondents on the BKMOB-L electronic discussion list.

Q: How do I estimate the life expectancy of our bookmobile?

A: With proper maintainance, the life expectancy of 25 years for a bookmobile is not unheard of.

A: Of course it is really important to realize that if the bookmobile is going to last 20+ years, the generator will need replaced once or twice (12K will cost about $10000 to replace) and there will be increasing body and mechanical costs as well. After about 8 years, you'll need to budget or have a fund to handle these repairs.

A: On Friday at the bookmobile roundup in northern Illinois, the speaker (a bookmobile consultant) cited an average useful life of 12 years for bookmobiles. I believe that was including all varieties. In the past I have heard bookmobile vendors saying 20 years, the last couple of years they seem to be down to 15. As for yours... what kind is it, how old is it now, what is its condition now, how much work would you be willing to put into keeping it running rather than replacing it (e.g. rebuilt engine, new generator)... all these would come into play.

A: We have 8 trailers that serve as full-sized bookmobiles. They are towed by Ford 350 super duty trucks. The oldest trailer in the group was built in 1957 and is now 46 years old. Our youngest trailer was built in 1972 and is 31 years old. All trailer are equipped with furnace, AC, 220 line. They are cabled to run one computer online with a wireless connection. They are maintained regularly and have a inspection twice a year to make sure they comply with the safety standards of the state. We have a mostly suburban district. We change trucks as needed and rarely miss a day on the road. MA

A: Russ Topping, a bookmobile consultant and truck expert who died in Feb 2002, created a fabulous chart to answer this question: Comparison Chart of the Top Ten Bookmobile Chassis. His chart shows all the types of bookmobiles with estimated lifespan, maintenance costs, cost-effectiveness, price, type of library service they are good for etc. The prices have not been updated recently, but the RELATIVE prices are still useful. -ch

Q: Does anyone know of cooperative bookmobile services across counties, across states or between public libraries and schools?

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