Taking Books to the People, Part V: Bookmobiles

National Book Mobile DayAccording to the American Library Association, April 12, 2017 was National Book Mobile Day.

It has been celebrated since 2010 on the Wednesday of National Library Week.

Although most people think of the normal bus and van types of book mobiles, other transportation forms have also served as book mobiles:  burros (Colombia) elephants (Thailand), horses (England and the U.S.), camels (Uganda) and a ship (Norway).



In 2011,  PBS did a special on the biblioburro.  Colombia grade school teacher, Luis Sorriano uses two burros to bring books to the children of Magdalena Province.

According to Ebook Friendly, “A first bookmobile in the world was horse-drawn and operated in 1857 in Cumbria county in North West England. It was aimed to increase the lending of its books to enthusiastic local patrons.”

During the Depression, American librarians used horses to take books to the underserved populations of Appalachia and other rural areas.

According to Wikipedia,  “A bookmobile or mobile library is a vehicle designed for use as a library. It is designed to hold books on shelves in such a way that when the vehicle is parked they can be accessed by readers. Mobile libraries are often used to provide library services to villages and city suburbs that otherwise do not have access to a local or neighborhood branch library. They can also service groups or individuals who have difficulty accessing libraries, for example, occupants of retirement homes. As well as regular books, a bookmobile might also carry large print books, audiobooks, other media, IT equipment, and Internet access.

Camp Pendleton Book MobileCamp Pendleton owns the only Bookmobile in DoD.  Of course, the base is so huge that it is approximately  13 miles to the main library once you enter the base from I-5.

Although the number of book mobiles has declined over the years, interest in book mobiles has not faded.  Pinterest has a  number of book mobile images.

Atlas Obscura did a pictoral history with vintage photos of Travelling Libraries, including a World War I era military book mobile.

WWI era bookmobile

Do you have a favorite book mobile story or memory?  Join in the conversation.  When I was at the Ft Myer Library in Arlington, VA, one of our volunteers, Kae Fahey, told me how she used to take the book mobile out to the Nike Missile site in the Herndon/Drainsville section of Fairfax  County.  Kae was barely 5 feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds.

Irish bookmobile from Summer 2017.Irish Book Mobile.JPG


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