- Associated Press - Sunday, April 10, 2016

KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) - First Lutheran preschoolers oohed and aahed Tuesday as they walked out of the school and saw the Buffalo County Bookmobile for the first time since it had been wrapped with a new design.

Christine Walsh, Kearney Public Library’s assistant director, told the Kearney Hub (https://bit.ly/25NxpQh ) that the Kearney Public Library’s new bookmobile, which started making its rounds in Buffalo County in August, was completely white before it went out on the streets March 23 with the new design that features large photographs of Nebraska landscapes and icons.

Walsh said when Buffalo County and the city of Kearney bought the used bus in April 2015 from a California library system, it had been painted white. She said this provided a clean slate to create a new design that would be different from the white/green and white/brown color combinations used in the designs on past Buffalo County Bookmobiles.

“We wanted it to have a wow factor,” Walsh said. “We wanted it to have an identity with Buffalo County.”

Walsh said library staff members knew they wanted photographs in the design that represented Buffalo County, but to find high-quality images that could be enlarged to the desired size was a challenge.

They hired Paul Brokering of Denver, who has taken high-resolution photographs of Nebraska landscapes and who provided the large photograph for the mural in the children’s room at the library, Walsh said. His large photograph of rolling Nebraska hills is wrapped around the bus in the background of the design.

Dean Ringlein of Kearney, a volunteer at the library, donated the eight insert photographs that adorned both sides of the bus. Photographs were taken in the region and include a rancher herding cattle on horseback, a windmill, a train and Kearney’s Cottonmill Park.

Walsh said the design was a collaboration between eight library staff members and CS Graphics of Kearney, which created the wrap for the bus. She said she also kept the Buffalo County Board of Commissioners abreast on the progress of the design.

“It’s been a cooperative effort by lots of people to make it come together,” she said.

Walsh said the cost for the wrap and photograph was about $10,000, which was partially paid for by the trade-in of the old bus.

She said the new bookmobile is a used 2004 Thomas Built, which had about 33,000 miles on it. It cost about $116,000, which was partially paid for with a $100,000 sinking fund set aside for the bookmobile.

Walsh said the county was lucky to find a bus with all the bells and whistles that they wanted for about half the estimated price. It came with shelving and has seats and seat belts for three people, she said.

The last bus purchased was in 1994, and was on its last leg, Walsh said. The generator went out a few months after the new bus was purchased.

Walsh said the plan had been to use the old bookmobile through summer 2015, but the library had to start using the all-white bookmobile before getting the new design on it.

“I’m thrilled. It’s been a labor of love,” Walsh said of the finished product.

Kearney Public Library Technology Learning Center Coordinator Beth Rosenthal has gone on the road with the new bus and design as a bookmobile clerk.

She said when they went to Pleasanton, “The kids would freak out over the train picture.”

She added, “They really thought it was a brand-new bus.”

There will be a ribbon cutting for the bookmobile at 4 p.m. April 13 at the library at 2020 First Ave. Tours will be available until 5 p.m. that day.


Information from: Kearney Hub, https://www.kearneyhub.com/

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