County of Marin - News Releases - Donation for FLAGship

For Immediate Release
April 25, 2017

Donation Accepted for New Preschool on Wheels

Marin County Free Library needs a reliable replacement for its FLAGship

San Rafael, CA – One of the Marin County Free Library’s mobile units, fondly called the FLAGship, will be replaced after more than 15 years of use thanks to a $100,000 donation by the Marin-based Buck Family Fund of Marin Community Foundation, the County of Marin and other generous support.

A side view of the FLAGship busThe 17-year-old FLAGship has 130,000 miles on it and has accumulated large repair costs in recent years.

The donation, delivered through the Marin Community Foundation, was accepted April 25 by the Marin County Board of Supervisors. It will be combined with matching funds from the County of Marin, library Measure A parcel tax proceeds, community donations and support from the Marin County Library Foundation. To date $325,000 has been raised toward the estimated $350,000 cost for a replacement vehicle.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support,” said Library Director Sara Jones. “The County of Marin and the Board of Supervisors are committed to promoting opportunities that advance education and equity in our county, and we think this is a vital educational tool for both of those goals.”

The existing 28-foot FLAGship was purchased new and then modified with financial help from the Marin Children and Families Commission (now called First 5 Marin), and it is showing its age after years of traversing the roads of rural West Marin. The vehicle, a Thomas Built bus, gets 5 miles per gallon and has 130,000 hard-earned miles on it. 

“The vehicle is so old and the repairs are so specialized that usually it can’t be fixed locally,” said Bonny White, manager of the FLAGship and West Marin libraries. “When part of the engine exploded while our driver was on Nicasio Valley Road, it had to be taken up to Sacramento for repairs. We’ve had at least one major breakdown every year in recent years, and that gets expensive.”

The Marin County Free Library (MCFL) is planning to have a replacement vehicle within the next year. In addition to the goal of fewer repairs and better gas mileage for the vehicle, MCFL would like a functional wheelchair ramp on the new FLAGship.

The FLAGship (the FLAG part refers to Families Learning and Growing) brings early literary outreach services to young children and their parents who don’t live close to one of the 10 MCFL branches.  In 2016, the vehicle made 404 preschool stops and served nearly 1,000 children and adults, emphasizing the critical need for every child to have early learning resources available.

“The vehicle is vital to the library’s equity initiative and serves the entire county, especially those isolated because of geography, finances or those learning English,” Jones said.   

“Essentially this is a free preschool on wheels that helps English and Spanish speakers develop their language skills for kindergarten,” she said. “We provide storytimes, school readiness activities and drop-in classes for children and caregivers on board. Even though it is a drop-in program, more than 80 percent of attending families come every week.”

The MCFL has another vehicle, the Bookmobile, that visits senior centers, children’s centers and other West Marin locations far from library services such as Tomales and Dillon Beach. 

The Marin County Library Foundation has raised $25,000 toward the FLAGship project and is in the midst of a final campaign push to fund the remaining $25,000 needed. This final amount would enhance a basic vehicle with the best available energy-efficient features such as solar panels, technology capabilities (such as a flat-screen monitor that folds into the roof), and dual awnings to make services expand beyond the vehicle in warm-weather months.

Anyone wishing to contribute may visit and donate online. You may also contact Bonny White for more information or to for other ways to contribute at 415-663-8375.

The Marin Community Foundation (MCF) is one of the largest community foundations in the United States. It manages the assets of the Buck Family Fund and more than 500 other funds established by individuals, families, and businesses. MCF makes significant improvements in communities around the world in two ways: by spearheading initiatives for long-term, sustainable change in Marin, and by distributing grants from donor-advised funds locally, across the U.S., and around the world. Now in its 30th year, MCF has assets of more than $1.6 billion, with annual grant distributions of approximately $60 million.


Sara Jones
Marin County Free Library

3501 Civic Center Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6051
Email: Sara Jones
Library website