New SEOLS Bookmobile arrives in McAlester

·4 min read

Jul. 15—Something new has been added to the Southeast Oklahoma Library System — a state-of-the-art Bookmobile which includes a wrap-around design and other features.

Ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held at the new Bookmobile Center at 2312 N. Main St., near the North Town Church of Christ.

Those gathered for the event included library officials from around the state, along with local library representatives and supporters, city of McAlester personnel and others.

Kaylee Stanfield is Bookmobile manager, while Stan Yount is the driver. Stanfield said she's taken a turn behind the wheel in case she ever needs to serve as the Bookmobile driver.

"We're hoping to have it ready for our first-ever site visit on Tuesday to the Coal County Public Library," Stanfield said.

Southeast Oklahoma Library System Marketing Coordinator Eddie Gray said the new Bookmobile will help serve a definite need, providing enhanced library services for rural communities.

"We've had a desire to get into our rural communities and better serve them, especially in Pittsburg and Coal counties," Gray said. A schedule for where the Bookmobile will stop, with times and locations, is currently being finalized. It is expected to be driven to site visits in all seven counties covered by SEOLS.

"Many times it will be at a school and/or a community center," Gray said.

He said the Bookmobile has expanded beyond traditional library services.

"We're more than books now," Gray said. "We'll have two public access computers, Wi-Fi and a notary service. We're basically a full-service library on wheels.

Gray said the Bookmobile came from Farber Specialty Vehicles in Columbus, Ohio at a cost of $254,025. Its headquarters will be at the Bookmobile Center in McAlester.

"You have to have a home for it and a storage building," said Gray.

SEOLS Executive Director Michael Hull said Library royalty from around the state attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. They included Lisa Wells of the Pioneer Library System, Tim Miller of the Western Plains Library System and Gail Oehler of the Southern Oklahoma Library System.

"We're excited," Hull said. When fully stocked, the Bookmobile will carry 1,600 books. Hull said the SEOLS Board paid for the Bookmobile by saving money from the library system's allocation of ad valorem property taxes in all seven counties SEOLS covers.

A special event to welcome the new Bookmobile is set from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on next Saturday, July 23, at the Southeast Expo Center in McAlester. "It will be on the air-conditioned side in Room 103," Gray said of the site where festivities will be held and where jumpers and other play equipment is set to be in place.

"It's a free event for the public," said Gray.

Those attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony included Steve Harrison, who just stepped down from the SEOLS Board after completing his second term; Friends of the Library Treasurer David Beale and retired SEOLS Executive Director Wayne Hanway, all of whom were enthusiastic about the project.

Some of the communities or other sites the Bookmobile is expected to serve include Savanna, Haywood, Arpelar, Crowder, Canadian, Indianola and Jones Academy in Pittsburg County.

Also expected to be on the schedule is the Veterans Colony nine miles south of Wilburton, along with rural communities such as Kinta, Bokoshe and Keota.

Other communities in the counties covered by SEOLS expected to be on the schedule include Lehigh, Clarita, Tupelo, Eagletown, Wright City, Fort Towson, Goodland, Soper Senior Citizens Center and Soper Public Schools. More additions are expected as the schedule is finalized.

The Bookmobile is also expected to visit all the public libraries in the SEOLS system. Counties covered by SEOLS include Pittsburg, Coal, Latimer, LeFlore, Haskell, Choctaw and McCurtain counties.

"We have 16 libraries in our system," Gray said.

This will be the first time SEOLS has had a bookmobile operating out of McAlester since 1976, said Gray. He said there's a reason it's being brought back at this time.

"We felt a need in our communities," he said.

"I'm happy and proud we can bring this to our rural communities," said Gray. "It's a great opportunity."

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.