BEVERLY — The Beverly bookmobile is out of commission, but its librarian is not.
The deteriorating vehicle failed inspection two weeks ago, and Linda Caravaggio has been making the rounds in her silver Nissan Sentra, delivering books from her back seat.
"She's hauling bags around and doing her best," Library Director Pat Cirone said. "She's a tremendous librarian who goes above and beyond."
The bookmobile, a 20-year-old bus that delivers books, tapes and CDs to people who can't get out to the library, needs tires, brakes and rust repairs.
"It wasn't just one minor thing," Cirone said. "There's a list."
Rough estimates for repairs are $3,000, which will come out of the city's library budget — not the $70,000 raised so far for a new vehicle, which is expected to cost about $150,000.
The Beverly Public Library has been raising money for a new bookmobile for the past two years. It's no secret that the vehicle is in bad shape — Caravaggio often drives around in the winter with a space heater, and at the beginning of the month it was in the shop for making some weird noise going uphill.
After those repairs, Cirone didn't expect it to fail inspection.
"It's something I've sort of been dreading," she said. "But because it's passed so well the past couple years, yes, I was surprised."
The decision to fix it was not a difficult one, Cirone said. The bookmobile accounts for a little more than 16 percent of the library's circulation, delivering about 60,000 items a year. That's about the circulation of a small-town library.
"Easily," Cirone said. "And it's just one person."
Caravaggio stops at schools and senior housing, ensuring that shut-ins and people who can't easily get to the library receive books.
Caravaggio said since the bookmobile's been broken, she's scaled back her normal route and sticks more to assisted-living facilities and schools. A lot of the street stops have been put on hold.
"I'm targeting people that can't get to the library," she said.
The books she piles into her car are often the ones that teachers and other patrons requested, or "I know what they like," she said.
Cirone said she doesn't know how long it will take to get the vehicle repaired but hopes to have it up and running again as soon as possible.
"Usually when it's off the road," she said, "it's only for a few days."
Staff writer Cate Lecuyer can be reached at clecuyer@salem news.com.