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ID:16395 Section: Online education

Updated:Monday 26th January 2015

Bookmobile Definition

(Wikipedia) - Bookmobile
It has been suggested that portions of this article be moved into Mobile library. (Discuss)
The bookmobile of the Ottawa Public Library. Note the backwards branding (in both English and French, owing to Ottawa''s large anglophone and francophone populations). This particular model is based on a Saf-T-Liner HDX chassis.

A bookmobile or mobile library is a vehicle designed for use as a library. It is designed to hold books on shelves in such a way that when the vehicle is parked they can be accessed by readers. Mobile libraries are often used to provide library services to villages and city suburbs that have no library buildings. They can also service groups or individuals who have difficulty accessing libraries, for example, occupants of retirement homes. As well as regular books, a bookmobile might also carry large print books, audiobooks, other media, IT equipment, and Internet access.

  • 1 History
  • 2 Present day
  • 3 Present-day mobile libraries
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 Further reading
  • 7 External links

HistoryThe Perambulating Library of 1859 in Warrington, England

The British Workman reported in 1857 a perambulating library operating in a circle of eight villages in Cumbria. A Victorian merchant and philanthropist, George Moore, created the project to "diffuse good literature among the rural population."

The Warrington Perambulating Library, set up in 1858, was another early British mobile library. This horse-drawn van was operated by the Warrington Mechanics'' Institute, which aimed to increase the lending of its books to enthusiastic local patrons.

Fairfax County, Virginia had a bookmobile operating in the northwestern part of the county in 1890. County-wide bookmobile service was begun in 1940 in a truck loaned by the Works Progress Administration. The WPA support of the bookmobile ended in 1942, but the service did not.

An early bookmobile in the United States was created in 1904 by the People''s Free Library of Chester County, South Carolina, which served rural areas with a mule-drawn wagon carrying wooden boxes of books.

Another early American bookmobile was developed by Mary Lemist Titcomb (1857–1932). As librarian at the Washington County, Maryland Free Library, Titcomb was concerned that the library was not reaching all the people it could. The annual report for 1902 lists "23 branches", collections of 50 books in a case placed in stores and post offices around the county. Realizing this still failed to reach all of the county''s rural residents, in 1905 the Washington County Free Library provided one of the first American book wagons to residents by taking the books directly to their homes in remote parts of the county.

Sarah Byrd Askew, a pioneering public librarian, was also an early developer of the bookmobile, driving her Ford Model T outfitted with a book collection to rural areas in New Jersey beginning in 1920.

The Hennepin County Public Library (Minneapolis) started operating a bookmobile (then called a book wagon) in 1923.

During the Works Progress Administration days of 1936-1943, horse mounted librarians or packhorse librarians traveled the remote coves and mountainsides of Kentucky and nearby Appalachia bringing books and similar supplies to those who could not make the trip to a library on their own. Sometimes they relied on a centralized contact to help them distribute the materials.

Bookmobiles reached their height of popularity in the mid-twentieth century.

Present dayLincolnshire mobile library covering small villages in this English county.Mobile Idea Store, London, 2008

Bookmobiles are still in use, operated by libraries, schools, activists, and other organizations. Although some feel the bookmobile is an outmoded service, giving reasons like high costs, advanced technology, impracticality, and ineffectiveness, others cite the ability of the bookmobile to be more cost-efficient than building more branch libraries would be and its high use among its patrons as support for its continuation. To meet the growing demand for "greener" bookmobiles that deliver outreach services to their patrons, some bookmobile manufacturers have introduced significant advances to reduce their carbon footprint, such as solar/battery solutions in lieu of traditional generators, and all-electric and hybrid-electric chassis.

The Internet Archive runs its own bookmobile to print out-of-copyright books on demand. The project has spun off similar efforts elsewhere in the developing world.

Present-day mobile libraries

Bookmobiles and similar services are used in many countries, in some locations without a vehicle (mainly in the developing world). Some examples include:

  • A Camel Library Service in Kenya is funded by the Kenyan government and as a charity in Garissa and Wajir, near the border with Somalia. The service started with three camels in October 1996 and had twelve in 2006 delivering 7000 books, daily, in English, Somali, and Swahili. Masha Hamilton used this service as a background for her novel The Camel Bookmobile.
  • A donkey-drawn mobile library in Zimbabwe not only delivers books but access to the Internet and multimedia, as well.
  • In Thailand, Elephant Libraries are used to take books, and IT equipment and services, to remote villages that have no other library service; this project was awarded the UNESCO literacy prize for 2002. In Thailand, mobile libraries are also operated on buses; via Book Houses ("standard 3m x 6m freight containers fitted out as a library with books"); via floating libraries that offer books, educational facilities, and in some cases computers aboard book-boats that service riverside communities.
  • In Thailand, a Library Train for Homeless Children is parked in a siding near the railway police compound. This "joint project with the railway police in an initiative to keep homeless children from crime and exploitation by channeling them to more constructive activities" is being replicated in "a slum community in Bangkok, also in via "a three vehicle set up. A library carriage, a classroom carriage, and a computer and music room carriage."

At the 2002 IFLA MobileMeet in Glasgow, Scotland: "There were mobiles from Sweden, Holland Ireland, England and of course Scotland. There were big vans from Edinburgh and small vans from the Highlands. Many of the vans were proudly carrying awards from previous meets."

  • The Epos library ship serves many small communities in Western Norway.
  • In some areas of the United Kingdom (mostly rural Scotaland and Wales), mobile banks and post offices are run using converted vans.
North America
  • Street Books, in Portland, Oregon, USA, is a nonprofit book service that travels via bicycle-powered cart to lend books to “people living outside”.
Oceania South America
  • The Biblioburro is a mobile library by which Colombian teacher Luis Soriano and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, bring books to children in rural villages twice a week. CNN chose Soriano as one of their 2010 Heroes of the Year.

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