Mobile Libraries – Part 2

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Earlier today, PG made a post about bookmobiles.

Since then, several visitors to TPV have provided a bit more history and scope concerning the concept that a library can do more than sit inside a building.

From The Vintage News:

In 1857, an English periodical dedicated to the industrial classes, entitled as “The British Workman” had reported about a perambulating library that operated in the circuit of eight villages in Cumbria, in the northwest of England. According to the news story, it was a Victorian merchant and philanthropist, George Moore, who had launched an action to “diffuse good literature among the rural population.”

The Warrington Mechanics Institution Perambulating Library, 1857

. . . .

On the other side of the ocean, one of the first bookmobile operating were reported in Fairfax County, Virginia, as early as 1890. The bookmobile services had started out in the northwestern part of the county, but a county-wide service followed only a few decades later, in 1940. The county-wide action was initially helped by a truck loaned by the Work Progress Administration (WPA).

An early bookmobile in the States is further reported in 1904 by the People’s Free Library of Chester County, South Carolina. This one served to rural areas and had a mule-drawn wagon that carried wooden boxes of books. Worth to mention, in those days, the bookmobiles were known as book wagons.

One more early American bookmobile was initiated by Mary Lemist Titcomb (1857 – 1932), a librarian who worked at the Washington County Maryland Free Library. Allegedly, Titcomb started out the bookmobile services after expressing personal concerns that the library did not have a satisfactory reach to all the people possible. Thanks to Titcomb’s efforts, by 1905, the Washington library topped the list of first institutions that provided American book wagons to its citizens. The vehicle even took books straight to the homes in the most remote parts of the country.

Early mobile library in Washington County, Maryland: Joshua Thomas and the first book wagon or bookmobile. It was reported that the horse’s names were Dandy and Black Beauty and that they were stabled at Corderman’s Livery Stable in Hagerstown. Washington County Free Library

Link to the rest at the Vintage News

And here’s a photo of the first mechanized mobile library in the United States, also in Washington County, Maryland, in 1905.

. . . .

Here is a photo of an English walking librarian from the 1930’s

And a streetcar library in Edmonton, Canada, in 1941:

Edmonton Streetcar Library

A mounted librarian in Kentucky



Bookmobile in Accra

And PG’s personal favorite, Biblioburro in Colombia:

3 thoughts on “Mobile Libraries – Part 2”

  1. PG, thanks for this on a Sunday morning.

    The packhorse librarian caught my eye, and then the Bibloburro and Ms Chase’s camel bookstore. I fear it will take some time before Kindles and Nooks take this market away.

    While I’m hardly a fan of BPH, this good work is one of the unintended consequences of their existence.
    I hope it outlasts them.

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