Library on wheels

The Dickinson Area Public Library's new bookmobile --the Page Coach -- is rolling down county roads to visit patrons in outlying areas in Stark, Billings and Slope counties.

The Dickinson Area Public Library's new bookmobile --the Page Coach -- is rolling down county roads to visit patrons in outlying areas in Stark, Billings and Slope counties.

The bookmobile, which arrived in Dickinson on Jan. 8, replaces the previous Page Coach.

"Actually, this is about our fourth one," said library director Cheryl Tollefson. "It has more features than the previous one -- a larger engine, cruise control."

She said this bookmobile is similar in size to the previous Page Coach, but it actually has more room for shelving because the front is designed differently.

"We gained an additional 4 feet for shelving," she said.


The shelves are filled with books for adults and children, audio books and videos.

The bookmobile chassis was manufactured by Thomas Built Buses in High Point N.C.

Matthews Specialty Vehicles Inc. in Greensboro, N.C., finished the bus in cooperation with Trucks of Bismarck.

"It's really enjoyable to drive it. It has a good suspension system. It's very smooth. It almost feels like it floats along," said Tollefson.

Tollefson said the bookmobile was funded through depreciation of the previous bookmobile.

"Those funds, collected from the counties we serve were set aside in a vehicle replacement fund. In addition, we received several donations to fund the balance needed," she said.

During a typical month, the bookmobile makes 14 to 15 trips to Billings, Stark and Slope counties.

"We park on Main Streets, in front of senior citizens banks, schools and make community stops at various farms and ranches in the outlying areas," she said.


Tollefson said the bookmobile has served the outlying areas since 1983 when the library entered a contract with Billings County Schools to visit their nine schools.

"Since then, the number of schools has dwindled to two main schools in Medora and Fairfield, but the service to adults in Billings County has grown," she said.

Services to Stark County began in 1988 with stops at Richardton, Sacred Heart Monastery, Taylor, Gladstone, Lefor, South Heart and Belfield.

"Users on the routes like the flexibility of being able to call in for special requests and that item will brought out to them on the bookmobile," she said. "All the items can be returned either to the bookmobile or the main library."

All of the items are quite new, and it's almost like having a "New Book" shelf on wheels, she added.

The service to Slope County began in the fall of 2004, and the number of residents using the service has grown steadily. The bookmobile has three routes in Slope County each month, which include serving patrons on highways 21, 67 and 85 and various rural routes. The bookmobile also stops at Marmarth once a month and Amidon three times a month, she said.

In addition to Tollefson, library employees Renae Paasch, Tina Kuntz and Leah Calbreath take turns driving. Jay Kovash serves as a substitute driver.

DeMores School Principal Denise Soehren said the bookmobile provides her students with the opportunity to have books available to them, especially the students at Fairfield.


"They would have to drive to the Dickinson Public Library if they didn't have the bookmobile available," she said. "Students have access to anything they need because the bookmobile comes out to them."

She said DeMores School has its own library, but the bookmobile gives the students more choices.

DeMores teacher Marjorie Jensen reaffirmed her appreciation for the bookmobile service.

"We're so fortunate to have such a nice resource center with the bookmobile. The librarians in Dickinson are super. Whatever we want, they manage to get it for us. It's a very good service," she said.

For more information about bookmobile schedules or services of the library, visit the Web site: .

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