Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's National Bookmobile Day: Bookmobiles in WWII

Yesterday, I went to the library to pick up some books that they had gotten for me through interlibrary loan.  I have always been fortunate enough to live within walking distance of a public library and a short subway ride to one of the greatest research libraries in the country, the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.  And since it is National Library Week, I would like to give a shout out to my local library and the librarians who have gotten me many of the books I have used for this blog, as well as my other blog, Randomly Reading:

It may be National Library Week all week long, but April 16th is National Bookmobile Day.  

Bookmobiles have played an important part in providing library services to people to can get to their local library, or in areas that are too rural for a library to be built.  During World War II, bookmobiles helped bring books to factories, where workers who had little enough free time could browse and check out books.
1943 Chicago Public Library Bookmobile (University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, University Archives
 And they played a major role bringing books to people in the armed forces, both here and abroad.
The 31st Division's Mobile Library at Camp Polk, Louisiana 1943
A small mobile library for soldiers stationed in the Middle East
And of course, they were there for schoolchildren and their parents

Two Bookmobiles serving New York City
1942 Bookmobile, Stamford CT
Today, there are just under 1,000 bookmobiles in the United States, still serving people in all different areas, the bustling cities to rural farms.  And then there is the Camel Library Service in Kenya, the mobile library in Zimbabwe pulled by a donkey, an well as in Columbia, South America, in remote areas of Norway there is the book boat, Epos and in Thailand, the bookmobile is an elephant. (Wikipedia)

If you would like to know more about the history of bookmobiles, you might want to visit Orty Ortwein blog, Bookmobiles: A History

Here are some books that feature mobile libraries for young readers:
Picture Books:
Hannah's Bookmobile Christmas by Sally Derby
That Book Woman by Heather Henson
The Book Boat's In by Cynthia Cohen
Miss Dorothy and her Bookmobile by Gloria Houston
Wild About Books by Judy Sierra

Biblioburro: a true story from Columbia by Jeanette Winter
My Librarian is a Camel by Margaret Ruurs (nonfiction)
Down Cut Shin Creek: the pack horse librarians of Kentucky by Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer (nonfiction)

Chapter Books:
Clara and the Bookwagon by Nancy Smiler Levinson
Mystery of the Bewitched Bookmobile by Florence Parry Heide and Roxanne Heide Pierce

Lending a Paw: a Bookmobile Cat Mystery by Laurie Cass
Taliling a Tabby: a Bookmobile Cat Mystery by Laurie Cass

Be sure to visit the ALA National Bookmobile Day 2014 for more resources and activities.  And you can download this nice PDF and put together your own bookmobile, like the one below:

Cardboard Bookmobile bringing books to the toy soldiers


  1. What great pictures of bookmobiles! I recently looked up a few pictures to show a student who didn't know what they were, so they'd have a visual. I will have to show them this blog post. :) Thanks for sharing all the important information. Bookmobiles play an important role in creating readers in remote places!

  2. I'll always have a soft spot for bookmobiles. Thanks for the pics and the titles.

  3. I relied on the bookmobile to bring me books all during grade school, until I moved to a city. The librarian was so helpful and kind, brought books that I requested and those she thought I'd like. Truly I would celebrate the bookmobiles all over the world. I've loved some of those picture books you shared!

  4. I so loved reading this. I esp liked the old pictures. Think of people wanting to read that much. Living in this blogging world as I do, I am always surprised to hear that many people never read.

  5. Thanks for plugging my blog!
    Just curious, where did you find that photo of the soldiers crowding around the books on the back of the motorcycle?
    Orty Ortwein