Donor Resurrects Endangered Bookmobile

When a bookmobile broke down last winter in rural Vermont, patrons, especially preschoolers, really missed it. Then a donor, who heard an NPR story about the rolling library's demise, came up with over $100,000 for a replacement. The town can't believe its good fortune. Vermont Public Radio's Charlotte Albright reports.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now, to an update on a story we brought you last month. You might remember this one. It was the story of a broken-down bookmobile - you know those mobile libraries. Well, this one had been forced into retirement in a rural corner of northeastern Vermont. We visited one of about a dozen day care centers on its route, and this is what we heard. And a warning here: ridiculously cute kid tape coming up.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: We miss the bookmobile.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: Yes. Yeah, we miss the bookmobile until it comes here.

MARTIN: The grown-ups didn't want to tell them that it was headed to the scrap heap. But wait, there's good news here. The beloved bookmobile may be back, thanks to a surprise donor. Vermont Public Radio's Charlotte Albright has this update.

CHARLOTTE ALBRIGHT, BYLINE: Julia Krapf was listening to an NPR podcast last April while doing chores around her Massachusetts house.

JULIE KRAPF: And it really did touch me.

ALBRIGHT: Krapf happens to be the granddaughter of Sir Edwin Manton, for many years an important executive at the insurance giant AIG. He left a fortune and a family foundation. For Krapf, a trustee and avid reader...

KRAPF: The thought of the bookmobile perhaps being on its last legs was very touching.

ALBRIGHT: Krapf remembers how thrilling it was to have a bookmobile come to her school many years ago. So, she and her fellow foundation trustees Googled the Cobleigh Library in tiny Lyndonville, Vermont, called the librarian, and offered $150,000 to buy a new bookmobile and keep it filled up with gas.

CINDY KARASINSKI: I was amazed, just simply amazed.

ALBRIGHT: Cindy Karasinski is the librarian and she is still in shock from the foundation's offer - and grateful.

KARASINSKI: Really, what it brings is that excitement for stories, and that excitement for stories leads kids to want to learn to read.

(SOUNDBITE OF KIDS PLAYING)

ALBRIGHT: At the Stay and Play Day Care Center a block away, preschoolers finish up a noisy breakfast and then quiet down to hear the big bookmobile news.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #3: We'll be so happy.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #4: I want a alligator book.

ALBRIGHT: It could take a year for a new bookmobile to get rolling - an eternity, to typical preschoolers. But day care owner Annika Bickford can't wait to see their delight when it does show up.

ANNIKA BICKFORD: They'll look out the window, they'll be excited that they can actually leave the building to go outside and pick out their own books. It'll just bring the whole wow factor back for them.

ALBRIGHT: But while they may be cheering the comeback in their town, many beloved bookmobiles across the country are going away. For NPR News, I'm Charlotte Albright, in Lyndonville, Vermont.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: This is NPR News.

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