Library welcomes new minibookmobile

Mini-bookmobile to hit the road in 2023

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published November 21, 2022

 The library has purchased a new Dodge ProMaster 3500 utility van, which officials hope will serve as a more reliable minibookmobile.

The library has purchased a new Dodge ProMaster 3500 utility van, which officials hope will serve as a more reliable minibookmobile.

Photo provided by the Rochester Hills Public Library


ROCHESTER — The Rochester Hills Public Library is hoping to get back on the road again sometime in the new year, after maintenance issues forced officials to retire its bookmobile in October.

The library bought and refurbished its current, used, 31-foot bookmobile from another library in Ohio for $14,500 in 2018 to be used as a temporary vehicle for outreach services in Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township. The bookmobile has been on the road and heavily used since then, but over the past several months, Outreach and Bookmobile Services Manager Mary Davis said, the vehicle has had maintenance issues that mechanics cannot replicate, diagnose or fix.

“It is now 30 years old, because we had already purchased it used as a kind of a stopgap until we could research and, hopefully, get a new bookmobile,” Davis explained. “This summer we ran into a few different issues and, unfortunately, our mechanics were unable to replicate any of the problems we were having, so we couldn’t diagnose what was wrong with it. It just got to the point where it was a better choice to take it off the road and retire it.”

To replace the community bookmobile, the library has purchased a new Dodge ProMaster 3500 utility van, which officials hope will serve as a more reliable minibookmobile.

“A van was always in our long-range plans,” Davis said. “It takes a couple of years to order and build a bookmobile, so we wanted to have something that was going to be reliable and on the road consistently.”

While the van is smaller than the retired bookmobile — and temporary until the library can purchase a larger bus — it will be outfitted with shelving and will be on the road in a few months.

“We’re actually entering the next phase, so we are taking it to a local company, National Ladder, and they will be adding the shelving and the workspace and that kind of stuff ... and we hope to be on the road in early 2023,” said Davis.

The new minibookmobile will provide similar service with some minor adjustments. Although holds cannot be placed on bookmobile items, cardholders can still request to have main library materials delivered to a bookmobile stop close to their home or work. They can also return any item checked out from the main library to the bookmobile staff.

“The hallmark of a strong library is one that is convenient for its patrons,” Library Director Juliane Morian said in a statement. “We are committed to turning the library outward into the community, meeting patrons where they are, and evolving this service for the greatest good.”

The library’s community bookmobile was previously on the road Mondays-Thursdays and Saturdays, making stops in places people can easily walk to in Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township. While Davis said the stop schedule for the minibookmobile has not been finalized, she said it will travel to the same locations as the bus, just maybe at different times.

Since the van is smaller than the bus, its drivers are not required to have a chauffeur’s license, which Davis said will allow more library staff to potentially drive it to community events.

Morian said the library will continue to work toward purchasing a larger, bus-sized bookmobile, which is a part of the library’s strategic plan.

Purchasing a larger bus, however, requires a two-year turnaround before the vehicle can be outfitted and on the road.

“Our board is very on board with outreach services and maintaining the bookmobile service. We had actually looked  at a couple of other vendors who build bookmobiles, so that is something that is definitely still on the table,” said Davis. “Certainly, when and if we get a new bookmobile, the van will be so much more versatile and able to go to community events.”

To help celebrate the new vehicle, the library is asking the public to help name it. The naming contest is only open to Rochester Hills Public Library cardholders in good standing, and only one entry per library card number will be accepted. The contest is open to all ages.

Officials said proposed names for the new minibookmobile should reflect the service it provides the community.

The winner will receive a dictionary/thesaurus and a downtown Rochester gift card. If there are multiple submissions of the same winning name, the library will conduct a random drawing to decide the winner.

To enter, visit and fill out the contest form by 5 p.m. Dec. 31. The library will announce the winning entry on Jan. 16, on the library’s website and on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

For more information on the bookmobile, visit or call (248) 650-7150. The Rochester Hills Public Library’s main branch is located at 500 Olde Towne Road.