Bookmobiles are a traveling branch library service. They consist of a large vehicle, designed to hold books on shelves and function as a mobile source of literature. Many bookmobiles even have room for people to sit and stay awhile, to catch up on their reading. In addition, they usually allow the public to check out books that can either be returned to the closest library branch or to the book mobile at a later time. As an integral part of American culture, bookmobiles stand as a symbol of the importance of reading.
The idea for the first U.S. bookmobile came from Washington County, Maryland in 1905. At that time, it was merely a book wagon that was used to take books directly to the homes in remote parts of the country. Through the years, they have functioned to provide services to school students and acted as the primary method of outreach to rural areas. Today, bookmobiles still run routes through small towns, frequenting retirement homes and schools. They operate in almost every state in the U.S. The state of Kentucky operates the most bookmobiles, with 98 active vehicles.
It takes a lot of effort to pack up a mobile library and transport it over a large area. A strong message that the bookmobile sends to both adults and children is that reading is important enough to merit that effort. Reading develops the mind, which is a muscle that needs exercise. Literature provides both education and culture to the people who are able to utilize it. Without the bookmobiles, many people in rural areas, or those who do not have access to a library might not receive the benefits that come from reading. Bookmobiles have helped to educate these groups of people, which in turn has aided in developing our society as a whole.
Generally when we think of the library we just think of books. Maybe some of the more frequent library patrons use the Internet or get movies but most people don’t even know what all is available from their library, let alone what technology is used and available from their public library.
Some of us not so young generation may remember the card catalog that librarians so carefully updated and indexed. Today when you go to a library you can walk up to a computer and type in a number of different things and find a whole list of what the library has to offer. You may look for a specific title, author, subject, age group, or any number of search options to help you find what you are looking for.
Bookmobiles have been around for ages. For those that may not be familiar with what a bookmobile is, it is a traveling library. Generally a motorized vehicle that goes to smaller more rural areas that don’t have their own district library. In some places the bookmobile may actually be a boat or even a horse-drawn wagon.
One of the more exciting and more recent technologies is the invent of e-books. Books that are in an electronic format and can be read from your computer. You may not even have to go to a library to access this type of book. In essence you can bring your library to your home. Inter-library loans are also wonderful. Perhaps there is a specific book you need but your library doesn’t have it. An inter-library loan allows your library to borrow the book from a college library or some other library and then lend it to you. This done by special request for a specific book where the bookmobile just carries a variety of books that you can choose from.
If none of these library services sound familiar to you, maybe it has been too long since your last trip to your public library. Take a trip and check it out. If you have young kids, run a homeschool, or a preschool group you may be surprised at all the activities and fun options available in most libraries today.