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.