Council delays decision on replacing beloved bookmobile ‘Fred’

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The untimely death of Fred, Windsor Public Library’s beloved bookmobile, has put the city in a $600,000 quandary.

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Purchased for $15,000 with a low-ball bid about five years ago, Fred delivered thousands of materials to senior centres, summer camps, parks and other places where people had limited access to normal library branches before he “died” on Lauzon Parkway about a year ago when his axle broke for their third time, WPL CEO Kitty Pope said Monday during City of Windsor budget deliberations. The WPL board was asking that $600,000 in library reserve funds be directed towards purchasing a brand new custom bookmobile. But several councillors on Monday were asking the money instead be directed towards a fund to help pay for a new central library downtown.

The issue was deferred until next week so council could get more information.

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“I still get lots of bereavement cards from kids missing Fred and wondering when Fred 2 would be back on the road,” Pope told councillors Monday. “We covered the city pretty consistently.”

Fred was a 2005 GMC custom built bookmobile with more than 100,000 miles when he was purchased.

“After four years, everybody knows who Fred is,” said Pope, saying the bookmobile program was very successful.

She said Fred was particularly useful delivering services in areas like Ward 9 in South Windsor, which is one of the areas in Windsor without a library branch. Ward 9 Coun. Kieran McKenzie said for his ward, the bookmobile was the replacement for both a library and a community centre. “This is it,” he said. “If we choose to relocate these funds, it’s a direct cut in services.”

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