A new all-electric bookmobile on order for the city libraries will come from Phoenix Motorcars of Ontario, California. Pictured is the existing Library on the Go van, which is a Sprinter. | Credit: Courtesy City of Santa Barbara

A new all-electric bookmobile is on order for the Santa Barbara public libraries through Phoenix Motorcars of Ontario, California, for just under $194,000. Approved by the City Council on Tuesday, the purchase uses part of a $250,000 grant from the state library system and includes a $60,000 zero-emission incentive from the state. Set on a Ford E-450 Superduty chassis, the roughly 14-foot vehicle achieves as much as 125 miles per charge and will bring much-desired materials, programs for school-age and younger children, and science and math activities to neighborhoods at a distance from the city’s libraries.

The library is undertaking a new garage at the Eastside library to house this and the existing bookmobile, known as the Library on the Go. City Librarian Jessica Cadiente first asked for $1 million out of the city’s federal stimulus dollars for the garage, which she described as part of a master plan for the library on East Montecito Street. But as the city’s Finance Committee sought to find more “hero pay” for city employees on March 2, that amount was dialed back to $250,000, which City Manager Rebecca Bjork said was more than enough to start the design phase.

The library put more diligence into the Phoenix purchase, though it chose the company through its research of electric vans rather than putting the purchase out to bid, stating Phoenix could deliver the van more quickly than other vendors as it had no issues with chip unavailability, was located in Southern California and could be delivered without being towed, as well as being a shorter distance for staff to travel to inspect the van.

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