Books-On-The-Go are still Running

I grew up in what was considered a suburb of Toronto, Canada. We lived in a small pocket of homes that were surrounded by open fields.  Strip malls with grocery store anchors served the community.  A brand new school was built. I remember when it opened – one wing was still under construction; the washrooms functioned, but the individual stalls were without walls for at least a week; and the main hallway needed painting.

One day a large blue and white motor vehicle appeared in the school parking lot – a giant bus with a narrow aisle and shelves full of books. The instant you climbed the steps and entered the shadowed cavern you could smell the mustiness of adventures awaiting you. The check-out counter was behind the driver’s seat.  Each month they had a new selection of books for us to browse and borrow.

The community didn’t have a library, so the library came to us. How wonderful was that!

Eventually, they opened a small branch library across the street from the school and the bus stopped coming.

I used my handy electronic research library (a.k.a. Google) to find out what had happened to these books-on-the-go vehicles.  Had they become relics of a bygone era?

I was happy to discover that they haven’t totally disappeared.  For example, the Ottawa (Canada) Public Library has three vehicles that reach over 20 communities each week and use a twitter account to keep the public updated on their schedules.  In addition to the usual assortment of books, audio books, magazines and DVD’s, the mini-bookmobile includes a tech-savvy collection allowing visitors to try out a 3D printer, a drone, and Chromebooks.

How cool is that!

This year, National Bookmobile Day is Wednesday, April 13, 2016. It celebrates the dedicated library professionals who continue to provide this valuable and essential service to their communities every day.  The twitter hashtag is #NationalBookmobileDay.


Charli Mills’ March 2, 2016 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge was to write a story in 99 words (no more, no less) that includes a library.   Here is my contribution.

Books of Value           

vintage study aSally shuddered.  She thought of all the arguments she’d had with her Dad in this study. He may have passed, but her memories were real.  The books she liked were nonsense, he’d tell her.  Only the ancient classics were of value and that’s why they were the only ones permitted on his mammoth bookshelves.   

She was about to leave when her eyes caught sight of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘Little House on the Prairie’. She stepped closer.  There they were – ALL her childhood treasures – the books she had bought in defiance of her Dad.  Her eyes brimmed with tears.

21 thoughts on “Books-On-The-Go are still Running

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  1. I drove a big blue and white Bookmobile In rural LaRue County In Kentucky for eighteen years. Even though I had lived there nearly all my life, I was on roads the I never knew existed and met people I would never have gotten to know. It was a very exciting and fulfilling time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing this. I can well imagine you drove down roads you never knew existed and were a lifeline of information to all those folks you met.


  2. We have something like that here. 🙂 Our library takes the Bookmobile to the Farmer’s Market, at the very least, but I imagine they must have other destinations as well. We typically go directly to the library so usually don’t use the mobile version, but I’m glad it exists!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Farmer’s markets are a fun place to promote books and reading! We used to have a librarian that would show up at the public beaches with his bike and mini-trailer full of seaside reading material. Thanks for letting me know they still exist where you live. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kate, you brought back some great memories with this post. We used to have a bookmobile come down our little neighborhood road and it was always the highlight of my week. So glad to hear there are still some out there. :O)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The library outreach programs are becoming ever so creative! Rowena just shared of a mobile unit that shows up a few days a week at a packed commuter train station! In Victoria the library system in conjunction with Literacy group used donated books and ran a bookmobile that stopped at soup kitchens and shelters every week. No id was required to borrow; no fines levied if the book was not returned.


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