To the Bookmobile! The Library on Wheels of Yesteryear


8th Oct, 2013

Old Bookmobile

Long before Amazon was bringing books to your doorstep, there was the Bookmobile! A travelling library often used to provide books to villages and city suburbs that had no library buildings, the bookmobile went from a simple horse-drawn cart in the 19th century to large customised vehicles that became part of American culture and reached their height of popularity in the mid-twentieth century. Let’s take a little trip down memory lane with this forgotten four-wheeler…

Above via Nurismatic Bibliomania


The Public library of Cincinnati’s first bookmobile, circa 1927 / via the Public library of Cincinnati



Bookmobile in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA. 170.770 volumes were circulated in 1936 / via the Crossett Library



“Books free for everybody if you vote “yes” / via the ‘librariana’ collection, Hans Krol.




Inside a bookmobile, date unknown / via Bibliobussen


a bus with a viewA bus with a view, 1967 / via Bibliobussen




Bookmobile horse and cart Washington D.C.

An early bookmobile horse and cart in Washington D.C / via Crossett Library


Bibliobus Drenthe

An impatient queue for a Dutch bookmobile / via BiblioBussen


Sharonville Bookmobile Stop

The Library’s bookmobile in Sharonville, circa 1938/ via Public Library of Cincinnati


Bookmobile staff

Bookmobile staff / via the Public library of Cincinnati


Bookmobile Librarian

Onboard the Connecticut State Library’s Bookmobile with Margaret Sullivan and Marcella Finan, 1967/ via Bristol Public Library

Bookmobile Iowa

A rather elegant Book Caravan in Iowa, USA circa 1927 / via the ‘librariana’ collection of Hans Krol



Kern County Library Bookmobile at the school / via Kern Country Library


Compton Road Bookmobile Stop

The Library’s bookmobile on Compton Road, circa 1933 / via the Public library of Cincinnati



Patrons visiting the bookmobile. (undated)

Patrons visiting the bookmobile. (undated)

Patrons visiting the bookmobile. (undated)

via the Anne Arundel Country Public Library


Utah State Library Bookmobile on a Snowy Road (circa 1965)

Utah State Library Bookmobile on the Road (circa 1970)

Utah State Library Bookmobile on the Road circa 1970 / via USL


So what happened to the Bookmobiles?

While there are still a few libraries around that have managed to find a budget for a modern-day bookmobile, sadly, most of the oldies have ended up rotting away in a junkyards or eventually disappeared altogether.

Utah State Library Bookmobiles (circa 1975)

Paul Buttars, former manager of the Utah State Library Bookmobile Program, in one of the “older” bookmobiles. Taken in Chesterfield, UT circa 1975 / via USL



Bookmobile, Timberland Regional Library, 2

Bookmobile, Timberland Regional Library 1

No longer in service, this old TRL bookmobile residing on private property just south of Amanda Park, Washington. Photo taken 19 Dec 2011. (Library Service to this area of rural Washington is now provided by the Amanda Park branch of Timberland Regional Library)/ via Washington State library


RIP Bookmobile

The Henderson County Bookmobile bides it’s time before making its last trip to the bone yard. Rest in Peace, or pieces? / via Davis Bell



A bookmobile that has been sitting in the same spot for at least 15 years at 25 West Tamar Road, Trevallyn, Tasmania via May Clarkson

There was one sighting however, of an old bookmobile at the 2007 Burning Man Festival…

Black Rock Bookmobile

via Espresso Buzz and Caryn Solly

Black Rock Bookmobile

Black Rock Bookmobile

Let’s hope there is room in this world for a comeback of the beloved bookmobile …





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