Happy National Bookmobile Day!

When you hear the word “bookmobile,” you probably wouldn’t think of this:

58Camel: credit Jambyn Dashdondog/Mongolian Children's Culture Foundation/Go Help
The Mongolian Children’s Mobile Library carried by camel to nomadic herding communities and remote parts of the Gobi desert. (photo by Jambyn Dashdondog/Mongolian Children’s Culture Foundation/Go Help, all images courtesy University of Chicago Press)
Today is National Bookmobile Day, a day celebrating the role of bookmobiles in fulfilling the mission of libraries. It is held on the Wednesday of National Library Week and is sponsored by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS), the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS), and the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL).

Bookmobiles around the world come in a variety of forms, including the “biblioburro” in rural Colombia, the M.S. Epos library ship in Norway, and elephant libraries in Thailand.

And here in the United States, the first bookmobile was started in 1905 in Washington County, Maryland, by librarian Mary Lemist Titcomb. Her “Library Wagon” was horse-drawn and visited farms throughout the county.
Image result for first bookmobile titcomb

(Image from the Washington County Free Library.)

Today, modern bookmobiles have become hi-tech, but their mission has not changed: to bring reading materials to areas not served by a library or to groups of people who are not able to readily visit the library. They also provide technology such as computers with Internet access, e-readers, and even video game systems.

The Baltimore Ravens football team have even kicked off their own bookmobile last year, fully funded by the Ravens Foundation, and owned and operated by the Maryland Book Bank.

With bookmobiles, libraries are able to increase the scope of their community involvement. Enoch Pratt Library just launched their new Mobile Job Center. The Center features computer work stations and staff to provide one-on-one assistance with job searches. It will travel to neighborhoods where unemployment is high.

So let’s pay homage to the bookmobile on this special day!

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