Book Mobiles

Library on wheels fills need for books

For those less mobile, library on wheels fills need for books
The Pauline Z. Smith Bookmobile of the West Haven Library has been on the road since 1971, much to the delight of bookworms young and old.

Though the vehicles used to be common in municipalities across the state, bookmobiles are now mostly a thing of the past.


The Final Chapter For A Trusty Bookmobile?

Story on "Weekend Edition" on NPR

Those rolling reading rooms are becoming scarce — too costly and outmoded, some say. The bookmobile in one New England town just broke down, and residents are wondering if it's time to shelve it in the history section.

Full piece


More Alternative Libraries

More on the sudden sprouting up of alternative libraries from the blog Beyond the Margins by guest blogger Necee Regis:

As a kid, I loved to read. Still do. The problem for my eight-year old self was that the public library was so far away. Located at the opposite end of town, about three miles door-to-door, it wasn’t easy for me to get there with my mom, a single parent who never learned how to drive.

Lucky for me, the library sponsored a Bookmobile, a rolling library located—if my memory is correct—in a cross between an Airstream trailer and a bus. It arrived once a week, parking in the supermarket lot behind our apartment building, and I still remember the thrill of climbing on board and choosing my reading materials for the week. No matter that my choices were limited to the meager capacity of its shelves. The Bookmobile expanded my world.

New and inventive ways to share books, promote literacy, and create community are appearing all over the place: in public phone booths, in front of private homes, in underused urban lots, city parks, and farmers’ markets. Here’s a tour of some pretty spectacular ways to find and share books. Keep your eyes open: an alternative library might be coming to a corner near you.

A Very Unusual Bookmobile

Check out The Argentinian Book Tank as bookmobile, aka a "weapon of mass instruction".


Luis Soriano and "Biblioburro", the Donkey Library

Anyone see this on PBS last evening?

"Biblioburro" follows Luis Soriano as he teaches his regular class of children on a Friday in the village of La Gloria, Magdalena Province, in northern Colombia, "in the heart of the conflict zone between leftist guerrillas and paramilitaries." He rides a burro as he travels to villages to loan books to children.

He asks the children to draw pictures of the bad things that have happened in their lives, then share their stories with the class. He asks them, "Where are we going to leave these bad things?" The answer is, "Behind us."

Soriano builds up the children by telling them they are the ones who will save the country. He is preaching the gospel of education as the way they will overcome the killing and poverty in the region, and his love and care for them shines through in the up-close-and-personal filmography directed by Carlos Rendon Zipagauta.

Zipagauta's award-winning film, in Spanish with English subtitles, has all the elements that make the viewer care: children who have faced terrible events, open-air classrooms where real learning takes place and Soriano himself, who has spent a decade living his faith in education.

Escaping the Summer Heat in a Bookmobile

A recent study found that making books available to low-income children had a significant impact on preventing the reading gap.

On NPR this morning, W. Ralph Eubanks reminisces about visiting the bookmobile as a child. He is the author of The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South and Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi's Dark Past and Director of Publishing at the Library of Congress.

"When I feel the summer heat steaming from the pavement, my childhood memories of the bookmobile provide a cooling sensation to my spirit. This feeling came back last summer on a visit to Chicago when I happened upon a parade of bookmobiles of various ages. There it was: an old Ford grille with big, round headlights that was a dead ringer for the bookmobile that stopped at my house as a child. "

More from NPR.

Bookmobile Gets Second Life as a Bookstore

Lafayette Bookstore in CA has had to close its bricks-and-mortar store, but will keep on trucking as the Bay Area Bookmobile.

"Big Blue" is a bookmobile that was decommissioned from the Ypsilanti (MI) District Library and was acquired and driven to the Bay Area during the week of June 20. The store is having a Saying Goodbye to the Brick-and-Mortar Party Thursday evening that will include "a ritual marking our move from the old to the new--we're doing a bucket brigade to move all the books from the new section of the bookstore into the bookmobile."

The store will have Lafayette Book Store and Bay Area Bookmobile Facebook pages and continue sending out the newsletter. As owner Dave Simpson wrote: "We'll be active there with a schedule of appearances, announcements of author signings and events, and as always, our book recommendations (and you can offer your own!). Come join the conversation!"

Photo Montage: Digital Bookmobile

Cleveland-based digital media vendor Overdrive is taking a "digital bookmobile" on a tour to show off the services Overdrive provides patrons via libraries. The LISTen production team visited the tractor-trailer rig to get some pictures of the traveling show.

The Purple Bus Rolls to A Halt

The Albany (NY) Public Library's bookmobile, a lumbering 36-foot symbol of its efforts to reach deeper into underserved neighborhoods and whose staff helped enroll thousands of first-time library patrons, has been decommissioned.

But library officials stress the final chapter for the 1991 Thomas Built bus, acquired for $12,000 in 2005 from the Utica-area library system, signals a broader victory in its efforts to expand the library's influence throughout the city.

The opening over the last eight months of five new and renovated neighborhood branches -- including the first branch for Arbor Hill and West Hill in 40 years -- they argue, has cut the need for the finicky behemoth piloted and capably maintained for the last five years by librarian Will Takach.

Library Director Carol Nersinger said the bookmobile, whose predecessor was sidelined during budget cuts in the 1970s, was "a temporary measure" until that $29 million project concluded last month.

Will Takach, 32, an Albany native, wasn't just the bus' librarian but also its driver and chief mechanic -- a skill he said he learned in part from reading manuals at the library's main branch as a kid.

Read more:


Driving the Bookmobile

USA Today guest blogger Bobby Harrell is a library assistant in Bowling Green, KY, and he -loves- driving the bookmobile.

It's been a fast seven months since the Warren County Public Library in Bowling Green, Ky., put me in charge of a 40-foot-long, 30,000-pound Blue Bird bus modified to hold almost 6,000 library items, otherwise known as the Mobile Branch. I got the job after the previous bookmobile library assistant retired last year. I was ready to do something different in the library world. And it's been awesome ever since.

Did I mention I get to drive this thing? Backing up in the Mobile Branch requires help from a TV monitor piping images from a video camera attached to the back of the bus. And it took a while to get used to turning and slowing down in a bookmobile. But the view out the windows is worth it. My stops take me past near-endless fields of corn and down country roads that curve around the crops.



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