Home » Libraries » To the Bookmobile! The Library on Wheels of Yesteryear

To the Bookmobile! The Library on Wheels of Yesteryear

13 October 2013

From Messy Nessy Chic:

Long before Amazon was bringing books to your doorstep, there was the Bookmobile! A travelling library often used to provide books to villages and city suburbs that had no library buildings, the bookmobile went from a simple horse-drawn cart in the 19th century to large customised vehicles that became part of American culture and reached their height of popularity in the mid-twentieth century. Let’s take a little trip down memory lane with this forgotten four-wheeler…

. . . .

a1 a2 a3 a4

Link to the rest at Messy Nessy Chic



11 Comments to “To the Bookmobile! The Library on Wheels of Yesteryear”

  1. It looks like Toronto still has a very active Bookmobile service: http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/bookmobiles/ – If you click on the two blue dots below the the Toronto label, you can see the two vehicles currently in use. I have friends who use the Queen’s Quay stop while they await the building of a new library branch close by.

    • Strange, I’ve lived all my life in Toronto and never seen a bookmobile. Our nearest library when I was growing up was close enough that we walked when we had a field trip there. Google tells me it 1.1 km, or about 0.7 miles.

  2. Ah, that’s sweet and nostalgic. 🙂

  3. We have one here. So much for ancient nostalgia.

  4. Every so often I drive past the mobile library in Kensworth. I think it’s in the village about once a month

  5. “Long before Amazon was bringing books to your doorstep, there was the Bookmobile!”

    Bezos is probably doodling with the design of the circa 2013 Bookmobile right now.

    Can’t wait.


  6. I was a bookmobile librarian right after graduation for about two years or so. Some of our routes were at least 200 miles round trip and the units we had were so old the heat and air no longer worked – well at least not until the last two months or so I worked in that position when a new driver was hired who managed to get them going again. In fact, that 3rd picture is very similar to the two units being used when first started working – people came in at a rear door where I checked in the books and then they checked out at the drivers end. I was also incredibly car sick those two years and the units drove so rough an earlier clerk once had an arm broken when they went over some railroad tracks and books went everywhere. But those two years never fail to remind me of how important books are to people who had no way to get to a library conveniently. They were starved for books and in those days the system I worked for had no limit on what they could check out – it wasn’t unheard of for someone to check out 60 or more books. Sometimes the units couldn’t make the trips and I would load up the library station wagon with boxes of books and still make the stops. Years went on and a newer set up was purchased although it was not a well thought out one and then circ began dropping because more and more people were working in town and now I believe the system I worked for dropped the mobile service. I hate that because I think a much smaller van operation could still be a very useful and worthwhile thing to do and I applaud those places who still see their worth.

  7. I remember going to the mobile library every Thursday afternoon when it stopped a couple of blocks from our house. Looking it up now I see they’ve limited the routes to stop at mostly schools, early childcare centres and retirement centres. I suppose this makes sense as most of the people at our stop were other kids or the elderly, which were usually those who couldn’t get to the library themselves.

  8. I think the french translation for Bookmobile is : Bibliobus.

  9. We have one here in rural Utah Rich county as well. They’re not dead yet 🙂

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.