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The Sumter Bookmobile is back after the library raised money from community donations. Meet two of the elementary, high school donors.

The Sumter County Library's new bookmobile will be bringing books to senior centers, schools and communities where people might not otherwise have access to books.

SUMTER, S.C. — A new bookmobile is hitting the streets in Sumter and surrounding counties. The new vehicle brings library books to people all over, and it was funded through donations from the community. 

Starting this week, Jonathan Courson is cruising through the Sumter streets in the brand new bookmobile.

“It's really great. I'm super excited,” Courson smiles.

Courson is the Head of Bookmobile Services through the Sumter County Library. Getting this new vehicle has been four years in the making after Courson says the original vehicle was worn down and needed to be replaced.

“Our original bookmobile was really, really big, almost like a school bus. And it was getting kind of worn down to the point where we just couldn't take it anywhere,” Courson explains. “But then COVID happened and that really hit us really hard. The bookmobile as a whole pretty much stopped going anywhere.”

But the library was determined to get a new bookmobile, so it began asking for donations.

“It was a lot of the community chipping in for it,” Courson explains. “Everyone's been very generous in the community.”

The funding came together from groups like The Friends of the Library and private citizens, including people like rising 5th grader Clara Zimpleman.

Zimpleman saw a sign on the door asking for donations and decided to help.

“Cuz I like to read,” Zimpleman shares. “A ton a week!”

A regular visitor at the library, Zimpleman decided to have a lemonade sale.

“I wanted to help…to do something for the library,” Zimpleman remembers. “Because they always give me books.”

While Zimpleman is busy reading Nancy Drew books and other fictional mysteries, she hopes other children will get the opportunity to jumpstart their summer reading goals in the same way she is.

15-year-old Lynzie Hodge had the same idea when the library first started fundraising a few years back.

“But I think hopefully the bookmobile can bring books to people who may not be able to go to the library,” Hodge shares. “And they will get to experience reading too without having to take time out of their schedules or like travel a long way.”

Hodge had started making paracord bracelets, and began to sell them to friends and family, ultimately raising over $300 for the library’s bookmobile.

“I felt pretty good about it,” Hodge tells me. “I thought it was a pretty decent amount of money for one 12-year-old to raise.”

It’s money that Courson says is being put to use through an important resource for the community.

“Not everyone is able to get out and come to a library and there's often a lot of other counties that we're going to be going to hopefully that we can take the books to, to counties that just maybe don't have a library or people who can't get out of the house very much,” Courson shares. “We can take it somewhere that there's not really a library around and so we get to, you know, offer books to people, we get to take them to different people who just would not have the opportunity otherwise.”

The bookmobile is starting to travel around town to go to different locations like senior citizen centers, schools, parks and birthday parties. Courson hopes that in future, it can also serve nearby counties as well.

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