Celebrate National Bookmobile Day! Every day, bookmobiles help transform the communities they serve, providing everything from access to books, magazines and videos to job search assistance and much more.
For book lovers, bookmobiles are oddly romantic. They seem like dream-machines, very real automobiles rolling through our lives in an almost impossible fashion.
A Brief History of the Bookmobile
The bookmobile or mobile library is a vehicle designed for use as a library. They have been known by many names throughout history including traveling library, library wagon, book wagon, book truck, library-on-wheels, and book
auto service. Bookmobiles expand the reach of traditional libraries by transporting books to potential readers, providing library services to people in otherwise-underserved locations (such as remote areas) and/or circumstances (such as residents of retirement homes). Bookmobile services and materials (such as Internet access, large print books, and audiobooks), may be customized for the locations and populations served. Bookmobiles have been based on various means of conveyance, including bicycles, carts, motor vehicles, trains, watercraft, and wagons, as well as camels, donkeys, elephants, horses, and mules.
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The first American bookmobile was actually a wagon. Mary Titcomb, a Maryland librarian, recognized that having books was only one part of the library’s job: the other part was making the books accessible. The Washington County Library Wagon took books around the county, making scheduled stops in addition to impromptu dispersals.
The idea of bringing books to patrons caught on in the U.S., spurred by a widely distributed population and the desire for civic improvement. The Everett County Public Library has what is believed to be the oldest operating bookmobile, manufactured in 1924, and since fully restored.
As libraries have become the community’s digital gathering place, bookmobiles have also been transformed into movable internet hubs. El Paso County’s bookmobile was one of the early examples of this shift, with onboard workstations and satellite internet service.
Today our nation celebrates National Bookmobile Day. For more than 100 years, bookmobiles have delivered information, technology and resources for life-long learning to Americans of all walks of life. Each year, it is celebrated on the Wednesday of National Library Week. Which is your favorite?