Bookmobiles

Did you know, before the e-books that make the book-shopping available from the comfort of your home, people used the Bookmobiles? Well, yes, they did.

The Bookmobile is a mobile library, designed to spread the good literature among the rural population.

These Bookmobiles appeared in the 19th century as a project started by a George Moore. It appearance was firstly reported by The British Workman, a broadsheet published in England, in 1857. The bookmobile was operating in around eight villages in Cumbria.

Next year, a local library set up another bookmobile. These mobile libraries were horse-drawn vans, and usually covered a small number of villages. The country-wide service didn’t began until 1940.

In the USA, the bookmobile arrived in 1904. These vans were also drawn by horses, filled with boxes of books. It was developed by Mary Lemist Titcomb. She was a librarian, and she thought that the library was not available for everyone, so her solution was, the one and only, bookmobile. At the beginning of the service, there were around 50 books in a case, placed in stores or post offices. Mary realized that the books still weren’t getting to some villages, so in 1905 the Washington County Free library provided the first bookmobile like the ones in England. This time, the books were delivered to every reader’s home.

Bookmobiles were most famous in the mid-twentieth century. They are still in use today, but not as much. Today it’s easier, cheaper and faster to buy the e-book, than to wait for the mobile library to visit you.

I’ve never had the pleasure of looking through a bookmobile, since it is not a thing in my small country. But I am sure it’s a fun and unusual way to get new books. I am looking forward to that experience. Who knows, maybe I’ll even start my own bookmobile service.

S.S.

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