The Haliburton County Public Library will soon have its own vehicle.

At an Aug. 10 meeting, the board approved spending up to $40,000 to purchase a van capable of hauling books around the County and providing a more cost-efficient way to move staff and resources from branch to branch.

CEO Christopher Stephenson said a new vehicle will save the library mileage fees, decrease financial burden on staff and make it easier to hire couriers. It will be funded by the library’s surplus, which currently sits at more than $200,000.

“It’s normal and it’s good that an organization that crisis-crosses the County all-year-round has regular vehicle access,” Stephenson said. He estimates the vehicle would drive 27,000 kilometres a year. Couriers drive 400 kilometres a week.

Currently, staff and library couriers use their own vehicles or borrow a County of Haliburton SUV, which is soon to be taken off the road due to safety concerns.

“Our staff… assume a lot of risk,” Stephenson said.

He added that it’s difficult to fit materials into a smaller car or SUV.

“Our capacity for moving books in transit is set to grow,” Stephenson told the board. He said it’s more economical to pay mileage on a corporate vehicle. According to his estimates, operating a library van could cost about 28 cents a kilometre.

It also means the library can hire couriers who might not have a vehicle appropriate for hauling books.

He said it would enhance the library’s public presence too.

“Some of the best advertising that we do is when a kid says to their mom ‘look there’s the library vehicle going through our town’.”

Warden Liz Danielsen said, “I was a little bit hesitant about the idea of purchasing a vehicle… I have heard and accept the arguments you’ve made. It can be a very beneficial thing for us to do.”

Nearly all board members said they’d prefer an electric vehicle but cautioned that few electric vehicles are large enough to be suitable for hauling large quantities of books.

“I think we’ve reached the point where we really have to have a van, otherwise a car doesn’t cut it,” said Highlands East deputy mayor Cec Ryall. It seems likely the library will opt for a small gas-powered van.

Stephenson said a designated library vehicle is “going to be a huge game changer for what we’re going to do.”