Bookmobile needs new vehicle
By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
Time and high mileage have caught up with Hawai'i Literacy's Bookmobile, and as a result hundreds of students on O'ahu are now left without a vital link to the world of books.
The Bookmobile, also known as Classroom on Wheels, has been out of commission for the past month with irreparable engine problems. Its odometer has twice turned over.
Hawai'i Literacy needs a 21-passenger van or shuttle with fewer than 85,000 miles — or possibly a replacement engine — so it can can resume service to the dozen schools, community centers and transitional housing facilities it serves on the Leeward side and Ko'olauloa.
The Bookmobile, a converted Handi-Van, was obtained four years ago and already had more than 180,000 miles on it.
Last year, the Bookmobile provided book loans, homework assistance , tutoring and other services to about 1,000 people, mostly pre-school and elementary school students. It also loaned out some 15,000 books.
"The best thing was that the kids would get so excited when we came," said Megan Naihe, Hawai'i Literacy's Classroom no Wheels program coordinator and manager. "I felt like the manapua man.
"Over there, there aren't many literacy activities and a lot of families don't have transportation to get to a library," Naihe said. "The programs we work with were pretty devastated when we had to stop."
Laura Watson said the Bookmobile played a big role in promoting literacy for the 60 students who attend her Bright Beginning Learning Center in Hau'ula.
"The children really enjoy getting on the bus and browsing through the books," she said. "And because they get to choose for themselves, they read the books when they get home.
"This is an economically disadvantaged area and the Bookmobile is a big help in getting kids to read," she said.