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Holy Cross Partners with City to Fund State-of-the-Art Mobile Library

March 6th, 2012 by 

At a press conference on the campus of the College of the Holy Cross overlooking the Worcester skyline, Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., President of Holy Cross, and City Manager Michael V. O’Brien announced today a 5-year partnership to fund an educational, state-of-the-art mobile library and resource center for the Worcester Public Library. Joining the City and Holy Cross in making today’s announcement were District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera; Kevin Dowd, President of the Board of Directors of the Worcester Public Library; Dr. Leslie Fish, President of the Board of Trustees of the Worcester Public Library Foundation; Head Librarian Mark Contois; Superintendent Melinda Boone; Hong Tran, a senior at South High Community School; and students from Quinsigamond Elementary School.

“Holy Cross is proud and delighted to partner with the City of Worcester and bring an educational opportunity directly to students, families, and all residents of our community,” said Fr. Boroughs. “Having access to books and tools for discovery is essential to lifelong learning, and we are pleased to enhance our many partnerships with the City of Worcester with what will be an exceptional resource.”

The new multi-media, mobile library and resource center will offer door-to-door service, allowing patrons to check out materials, research information, and take part in programming and activities. The mobile library, which will be available to citizens on May 1, will be stocked with an extensive collection of books and resources, equipped with state-of-the-art technology and computers, and staffed with professional librarians.

Naming the Mobile Library of the Future

Beginning on Thursday, March 8, the Worcester Public Library will initiate a naming contest for this new mobile library of the future, with high-speed Internet connectivity, intuitive touch screen technology and space-saving tablets. Sixth grade students in public, private and parochial schools throughout the City will be asked to submit creative names for this new and modern vehicle. (See guidelines for more detail).

“We could not have undertaken this effort without the partnership of Holy Cross,” said O’Brien. “The demand for library services is great; and our public library is an absolute gem and opportunities abound. The goals here are simple: to bring the wonders of our public library to our citizens via a 21st century, technology-driven, interactive mobile resource center. The vision is also to break through the walls of the past and work toward ‘One Library,’ where the integration of our public library with our public schools creates one seamless resource.”

Commenting on the announcement, Mayor Joseph M. Petty said, “We are very grateful to the College of the Holy Cross for making this opportunity available to the community, especially our students, and bringing the great resources of the Worcester Public Library to every neighborhood in our City.”

Holy Cross Support

Holy Cross will contribute $80,000 annually for the next five years, at which time the partnership will be evaluated. Holy Cross funds will go toward annual on-going costs, including staffing, fuel, insurance and maintenance. The City will fund one-time costs related to books, technology, and other resources to assist in the start-up of the operation from a dedicated donor account for Library purposes only.

In 2006, the City of Worcester purchased a functioning bookmobile from the City of Fitchburg in hopes of working with private sponsors and donors to assist in its operation. The Worcester Public Library Foundation initiated conversations with business leaders, corporations, colleges, and others to assist in its restoration. The Foundation had approached the College on a collaboration that would leverage its strengths in academia and education with the Library’s vision to move toward a 21st century, technology-driven, interactive resource. Holy Cross responded positively to the idea and pledged its support of the service.

Commenting on the partnership, Dr. Fish stated: “The mission of the Worcester Public Library Foundation is to secure funding for library programs and services which cannot be funded through local budgets. We are grateful to the College of the Holy Cross for agreeing to take the lead role in bringing the bookmobile back to the citizens of Worcester.”

The Foundation has also secured funding from UMass Memorial Health Care and the Worcester Public Schools to assist with the book collection, and will continue to seek partnerships in support of unique programs and services. The Foundation will also collaborate with Worcester’s public schools to provide library services to students, and the vehicle will travel to senior housing complexes, parks and other gathering places in order to provide children and adults with access to books, materials and technology.

History of Bookmobile Service in Worcester

Originally introduced in the early 1940s, bookmobile service was a staple in the City of Worcester for decades, serving neighborhoods without “bricks and mortar” libraries. The service was popular among school children, veterans, senior housing complexes, local day care centers, and nursery schools, to name a few. Between 1941 and 1954, library book circulation rose from 9,945 to 136,351. The service also proved a relatively inexpensive and successful means to provide access to public schools lacking library collections. Service ceased in 1991 due to budget constraints.

“Libraries are America’s great information equalizers – the only place people of all ages and backgrounds can find and freely use such a diversity of resources, along with the expert guidance of librarians,” said Mr. Contois. “This exciting new partnership is an extension of our library system, bringing services where libraries can’t go. I am especially grateful to Holy Cross and Fr. Boroughs, City Manager O’Brien, UMass Memorial Health Care, and the Worcester Public Library Foundation for their leadership in making this happen.”

Mr. Dowd added: “Today marks the first step in bringing library access to residents of the City who are unable to get to the Main Library or the branches on a regular basis. With the support of the College of the Holy Cross we will be able to reach citizens who have not had easy access to the library and its valuable services in years.”

Ongoing Holy Cross/City of Worcester Collaborations

This latest partnership is one component of Holy Cross’ ongoing commitment to support the City of Worcester. Other contributions include:

  • Partnering with the City on 2011 summer youth programs, including supporting Wheels to Water financially and as a host site; committing to hiring city high school students for summer employment, and establishing a parks stewardship program;
  • Providing operational and financial support to the Worcester Public Schools and the neighborhood revitalization efforts in South Worcester in partnership with the South Worcester Neighborhood Improvement Center and College Hill Neighborhood Association;
  • Committing $25,000 in annual support toward the Hanover Theatre for Performing Arts;
  • Investing financial and in-kind support for improvements to City-owned Cookson Field;
  • Offering scholarships, credit courses and professional development, free of charge, to Worcester Public School students, staff and faculty;
  • Providing Fitton Field to the Worcester Tornadoes professional baseball team; and
  • Sponsoring, with ongoing contributions from faculty, staff, students, and the Jesuit community, the operation of the Nativity School of Worcester, a tuition-free middle school for boys from the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.

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