On a + note


The mobile library lives on… #33: 2012

Posted in on a + note by flickfancy on September 24, 2012

A bookmobile or mobile library was first cited in The British Workman  in 1857. It was a horse-drawn van that was operated by the Warrington Mechanics Institute and was designed to increase the borrowing of books by “the common man”.

By 1904 the bookmobile had made its way “across the pond” to the People’s Free Library of Chester County.  It was a mule-drawn wagon carrying large grey wooden boxes of books and served a large rural area of South Carolina.

The first Canadian bookmobiles are traceable back to Acadia in 1930 and to a Carnegie Corporation trial in the Fraser Valley in 1930-33. The first bookmobile in Ontario is claimed by London Public in 1940 and the Middlesex County in 1941.

However, mobile libraries come in many forms. For example:

  • The Kenyan Camel Library Service which started with three camels in 1996. You may recognize it from “The Camel Bookmobile” by Masha Hamilton.
  • The Zimbabwe donkey-drawn mobile library which is being used to deliver books, and access to the internet or the Columbian Biblio burro…I love the name!
  • Thailand’s Elephant Libraries that provide library services to remote villages
  • Book trains …or street cars in Edmonton and Calgary in 1940-41
  • The library ship Epos served the small coastal communities in western Norway or the Book Boat plying the waters around Placentia Bay.
  • Dog sleds (with the heroic malamute “Stormy” in the lead) were known to occasionally deliver books up the Mackenzie Delta in the 1970’s. (That is Stormy’s daughter Nana as a teenager in 1986, sitting beside me!!)

And recently, the LA Times did an article on the subject: 100 Years of Bookmobiles.

With some great examples of modern day bookmobiles…

►The Robi bookmobile is amazing: on the outside, it looks like a big blue school bus, but on the inside, it is an ultra-modern hangout with loads of books galore.

►The Mobilivre bookmobile, from Quebec, is a renovated Airstream trailer….I especially like the flower box!

►or L.A. County’s first bookmobile, which hit the road in 1948

When I retire or grow up, whatever comes first, I want to be a mobile librarian, perhaps around Peggy’s Cove or Salt Spring Island!

Have a swell week.

Kitty Pope                                                                                               #33 September 2012
kpope@library.guelph.on.ca

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4 Responses to 'The mobile library lives on… #33: 2012'

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  1. Bill Manson said,

    As an old bookmobile librarian myself, my retirement/grown-up job has always been the bookmobile librarian in Santa Barbara. No ferries there to deal with.

    • Kitty said,

      Thanks Bill….definately the unperdictable spring ferries in Saskatchewan, were always an issue as we deliverd books across the province.
      Your comments made me smile…tks…kp

  2. Ann Taylor said,

    Great photo Kitty – nice to see Nana and Maggie. I think the book deliveries were a sideline to delivering fish!

    • Kitty said,

      Thanks Ann…it was so much fun writing that blog and then looking for a photo of Nana or Stormy….or you in your beautiful sunburst parka….kp


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