NORWAY, Maine — The popular Oxford Hills Bookmobile may come to a stop if funding isn’t found by May 31 to keep the wheels rolling this summer.
The eight-year-old program, a collaboration between Oxford Hills/Buckfield Adult Education and Norway Memorial Library, served 775 children at nine locations weekly for six weeks last year, according to Norway library Director Beth Kane.
Each week, volunteers drive the bookmobile, a converted school bus, to beaches and preschool programs, among other locations, in Oxford Hills towns to distribute books and read to children.
The program was primarily funded by Community Literacy Grants from Maine Reads but funds are no longer available from this source. Program sponsors must determine by May 31 whether they will be able to keep providing the service, Kane said.
The bookmobile is 95 percent all-volunteer effort, but Kane said the program needs $1,200 to fuel the school bus, pay for a credentialed driver and provide reading logs and certificates of completion for children.
Kane said she has heard from many of the volunteers at bookmobile sites and all have expressed a desire to have the bookmobile return this summer.
Kane said some of the comments from volunteers were: “The experiences you provide for our preschoolers is priceless,” “I would be thrilled if the funding could be found to have you return” and “Children were exposed to lots of new literature…all students were very engaged in great stories with lots of discussion.”
In her statement, Kane said, “Research shows that when children do not read over the summer, their reading skills may decline due to lack of practice when school is not in session. The bookmobile makes books and reading easily accessible to children in the Oxford Hills throughout summer vacation by taking books directly to children where they are.”
The Oxford Hills School District does not have a required summer reading book list — except for some high school students in advanced placement classes — but school officials have said the goal every summer is to encourage students to read as a way to keep up their reading skills.
“Literacy is an important community value,” Kane said. “Supporting that value by helping to fund the Oxford Hills Bookmobile is one way individuals and organizations can invest in children and their success in the coming school year.”
Those interested in a making a contribution to keep the bookmobile rolling should make checks payable to the Norway Memorial Library, 258 Main St., Norway ME 04268. For more information, contact Beth Kane, library director, at 743-5309 ex. 2.