WESTBROOK – A City Council subcommittee approved a request Monday night for the Walker Memorial Library to buy a bookmobile.

The Facilities and Streets Committee voted 2-1 to send the item to the council for approval. Councilor John O’Hara Cast the dissenting vote. Councilor Brendan Rielly left the meeting before the vote.

Karen Valley, the library director, asked the committee for approval to spend $5,000 to buy a bookmobile. She said the bookmobile could be used by residents who live in remote areas of the city and used at the community center, the senior center or special community events.

It is a 1996 vehicle with about 32,000 miles. It is 28 feet long and almost 12 feet tall. Valley said the bookmobile would be paid for with donations and could be operated by the library staff.

Councilor Michael Foley raised questions about the fund that Valley said she would use to pay for the bookmobile. She said there is about $24,000 in the account.

“It has been pleaded to us for more positions at the library, and that you don’t have enough staff to manage the existing stuff that goes on,” Foley said. “How will you have enough staff to bring someone out and operate this?”

O’Hara, who didn’t support Valley’s request, said bookmobiles are easy targets when funding is scarce and are costly to operate. He referred to a proposal to move the costly Walker Memorial Library into the vacant Warren Library.

“I am in support of a bookmobile in good times,” O’Hara said. “I am very leery to add a component like a bookmobile to the upcoming debate on where the library is headed.”

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]