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Rising costs limit bookmobile route

The Cattaraugus County Legislature can't bring the bookmobile back to several Olean senior citizen housing complexes, but lawmakers and administrators with the Chautauqua/Cattaraugus Library System may find a solution together.

System Director Catharine Way, accompanied by the organization's board president, Thomas Congdon, told members of the County Operations Committee and other legislators this week that the decision to remove bookmobile stops from the schedule is always heart-wrenching.

She said the bookmobile service has cost $228,534 this year, with money coming from both counties and the state.

Increased fuel and maintenance costs for the seven-year-old bookmobile have made library officials rethink its stops. It now has 11 in Cattaraugus County and 15 in Chautauqua County every two weeks.

Deposit collections of materials also are made every two months to nine nursing and adult homes in Cattaraugus County and to 12 homes in Chautauqua County.

Fewer bookmobile stops allowed a staff cut from two full-time drivers and one part-time driver to one full-time and two part-time drivers. Also, a part-time clerk is no longer necessary.

Factors governing which stops are eliminated depend on the rate of usage of the service by patrons; circulation rates; the presence, or lack of presence, of a community library; and the route. Way said the library system intends to remove some stops in Chautauqua County in the coming year.

Restoring the stops in Olean will add a day to the bookmobile schedule and cost $4,672 to complete the year. For a full year, said Way, $14,018 in sustained and ongoing funding would be required.

Legislator Michael C. McLaughlin, D-Olean, in June reported a constituent's complaint that the bookmobile ceased visiting three Olean senior citizens apartment complexes.

He asked Way if the bookmobile could alternate monthly stops at just one of the three closely-situated senior apartments -- Aspen Tower, Aspen Manor and Alder Court -- or rearrange its schedule to serve Aspen Towers. "We would be happy to do it [monthly] if you give us the money," Way said, adding that her board must make the decisions.

Way said she would cooperate with the Department of Aging, local libraries and any volunteer groups willing to help.

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