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News: 11/01/2019

Vehicle regulations threaten free bookmobile outreach program

All-or-nothing crowd funding campaign started

The Free Bookmobile of Sonoma County has been notified by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) that its bookmobile vehicle engine is no longer in compliance with emission regulation law. Diesel-powered vehicles in the bookmobile’s weight class must now run a 2010 or newer model-year engine to operate across Sonoma County. The Free Bookmobile’s current engine is a 1995 model-year Cummins turbo diesel.

The only exemption available to the organization is for low mileage, which is allowing the bookmobile to perform its basic public-access outreach one day per week for the rest of the calendar year. Normally the vehicle is on the road three to four days per week, reaching thousands of eager readers each month. Beginning in 2020, this 1,000-mile annual limit will render the bookmobile virtually useless in California. If a replacement vehicle is not acquired, the popular literacy program faces a complete shutdown.

“Switching out the engine just isn’t cost-effective,” explained Executive Director Glen Weaver. “We figured out that we can build a new bookmobile from a bare truck at similar expense, which should set us up for smooth operation for many years to come.”

Weaver has tracked down a base model box truck suitable for conversion, featuring a semi-translucent roof for daytime illumination, a custom patron entrance, and low mileage on a strong and reliable engine. He has also lined up Sonoma County vendors to do the necessary modifications: hardware additions, electric and lighting, carpet, and of course the shelves that will carry all the books that county residents enjoy browsing and taking home.

The Free Bookmobile is now seeking donations to complete the project, which will cost approximately $32,500 in addition to initial contributions already received. They have set up a crowdfunding page so anyone can pledge toward making the new bookmobile a reality and keeping the program alive. Donations can be made at

Their fundraising campaign is “all or nothing,” meaning that donors will only be charged their pledge amounts if the entire goal is reached and the project will move forward. Donors can also choose to remain anonymous. The campaign deadline is Nov. 15.

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