So... What are Book Mobiles?
They are exactly as their name describes, book mobiles are a vehicle intended for library use. The mobile library has shelves similar to that of a free-standing library structure, where patrons can enter into the Book Mobile and view the books on the shelves, while the Book Mobile is not moving of course.
- Book Mobiles are known to have began in 1857, by Victorian Merchant George Moore, who created the book mobile to "diffuse good literature throughout rural populations."
- Book Mobiles were brought to the United States in the early 1900s, with several laws and policies supporting their cause, such as the:
- 1936-1943 Works Progress Administration where "packhorse librarians" would travel and bring books to citizens in remote areas of the country
- The 1960's "Library in Action" program brought to the Bronx to serve the needs of inner-city teenagers of color
While the Book Mobile was popular in the early 20th century, they have since lost their luster, with critics claiming their worth to be tied down by high maintenance costs, advancing technology, and overall ineffectiveness. However, they are still around today, and their most popular American programs are found in:
- Books on Bikes- sponsored by the Seattle Public Library, where librarians travel to community events on bikes, towing books behind them.
- Street Books- Held in Portland, Oregon where librarians again travel by bike to deliver books to those in need around the city.
- Bookmobility.org, Pinterest, and HASTAC- Internet and social media sites that deliver free information about book mobiles in patron's areas, and other mobile book initiatives.
Whether you have a Book Mobile in your local community or not, there are always opportunities to start one! Contact your local library and see how you can volunteer and provide books to those in need around you. Start by going to local community events, and bringing some books to simply display at a tent or a showcase. Book Mobiles do not have to dwindle away, but they need all of our help and support! Start now and get you and your books to become mobile!