FLORENCE, S.C. — A newspaper article and an anonymous donor later the Florence County Library System has paid for its new children's bookmobile.
The Friends of the Florence County Library announced Wednesday that the donor had stepped up with a $70,000 donation to close the funding gap for the vehicle.
"The Friends received word Wednesday afternoon from the donor who called in response to the article in the Morning News (Books on the go, Wed., July 22) detailing the need for the new vehicle and the efforts of the Friends group to raise the remaining $70,000 needed to certify the purchase," the group said in the announcement.
“Upon learning of the donation, I immediately felt chills on my arms and tears in my eyes. The generosity of our donors and the support we have received from our community are incredible. It is an honor to live in an area where people come together to enhance the lives of others,” said Leslie Denton, vice president of the Friends Board. “The love of reading will be with them a lifetime.”
Roger Hux, Friends of the Florence County Library Board member and former librarian at Francis Marion University, said he appreciates how this gift benefits the children whose families cannot purchase children’s books.
“The bookmobile will be great for children of poverty all over the county, particularly in our rural areas. It will be the pied piper of dreams,” Hux said.
Unlike former bookmobiles which were service vehicles modified to carry books, today’s bookmobiles are produced one at a time to precise specifications, similar to fire trucks and other specialized vehicles.
Having long provided mobile library service to the area, Florence County librarians were able to give professional oversight in the design and production of the new mobile library.
For this reason, the new bookmobile will have many important features that were missing from the original vehicle, such as a wheelchair lift, wi-fi, rear back-up camera, and a retractable awning for outside activities.
The Children’s Bookmobile goes to where the children are during the day, to sites such as day cares and kindergartens, providing a mini public library designed specifically for children.
The Children’s Bookmobile circulates more books to children that every standing library in the county except the main branch. In its last full year of service (2018-2019), the Children’s Bookmobile presented 403 programs to 13,162 children who checked out 6,734 titles. The new vehicle will be able to travel many more facilities at more distant sites around the county and serve even more children.
The president of the Friends Board, Jo Etta Chewning, said, “We all want to give a gift that ‘keeps on giving,’ and our donors have absolutely done this. This gift perpetually sends the message to our young families that they are valued.”