Long before Amazon, Audible, and other digital book distributors, bookmobiles were bringing literature to peoples' doorsteps. Their mission was to provide the written word to remote villages and city suburbs that had no libraries. We invite you to remember these almost forgotten four-wheelers of the past.


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The first bookmobile is believed to have appeared in Warrington, England in the late 1850s. It was a horse-drawn cart, and lent about 12,000 books during its first year of service. Later, mobile libraries were installed inside vehicles and reached the height of their popularity in the mid-20th century when they had become a part of Americal life.

Although bookmobiles are still operated in some parts of the world by libraries, schools, activists, and other organizations, they are widely thought to be an outdated service due to high costs, advanced technology and impracticality.

(h/t: vintageeveryday, messynessychic)

#1 An Opened Bookmobile, 1925

An Opened Bookmobile, 1925

Numismatic Bibliomania Society Report

Sissy Hankshaw 2 weeks ago

jeeeze.. what a great way to spend your life... driving around with this exactly car, bringing books to the people.

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#2 The First Bookmobile Of The Public Library Of Cincinnati, 1927

The First Bookmobile Of The Public Library Of Cincinnati, 1927

Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County Report

JillVille Child Care 2 weeks ago

I just love how proper everyone dressed back then!

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#3 A Mobile Library In Kurdistan, Iran, 1970

A Mobile Library In Kurdistan, Iran, 1970

wikimedia Report

Notchimine Mette 2 weeks ago

Shame, they only have about 12 books...

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#4 Inside A Bookmobile, 1960s

Inside A Bookmobile, 1960s

Bibliobussen Report

John Ashley 2 weeks ago

Although my grade school had plenty of books (that you could borrow) in every classroom, our grade school didn't have its own library, so a county library bookmobile came by. Looked a lot like this one. Got exposed to Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Heinlein, and many other SF authors whose books they carried. Probably the only thing about school I looked forward to. Sincere thanks and cheers for the people of the Ohio Lucas County Library and their bookmobiles.

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#5 One Of The Library Bookmobiles, C. 1948.

One Of The Library Bookmobiles, C. 1948.

Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County Report

Helen Zuercher 2 weeks ago

That wagon (red of course) brings back memories!!

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#6 A Bookmobile In Indonesia, Early 20th Century.

A Bookmobile In Indonesia, Early 20th Century.

wikimedia Report

Yuke Picard 2 weeks ago

That must be in Jakarta (Batavia) or Surabaya.

#7 The Bookmobile In Columbia Park, C. 1940

The Bookmobile In Columbia Park, C. 1940

Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County Report

Fire Bird 2 weeks ago

That book that little girl is carrying, Nicodemus and his little sister by Inez Hogan, that book is worth a pretty penny today. I just saw one for sale for $225.00 on Alibris.com. There were a few Nicodemus books out there by the author.

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#8 Bookmobile

Bookmobile

Multnomah County Library Report

#9 Book Caravan In Iowa, C.1927

Book Caravan In Iowa, C.1927

Report

#10 Multnomah County Library, 1926

Multnomah County Library, 1926

Multnomah County Library Report

Fire Bird 2 weeks ago

Notice the wheelchair that man is in. Today's chairs have reversed the wheels. At least that wheelchair you can recline in.

#11 Greensboro, North Carolina, 1936

Greensboro, North Carolina, 1936

Crossett Library Report

#12 An Impatient Queue For A Dutch Bookmobile

An Impatient Queue For A Dutch Bookmobile

Bibliobussen Report

Pi... 2 weeks ago

Oh my! They really DO look rather in a rush!

#13 The Library’s Bookmobile On Compton Road, C.1933

The Library’s Bookmobile On Compton Road, C.1933

Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County Report

#14 Three Of The Bookmobile Staff, C.1930

Three Of The Bookmobile Staff, C.1930

Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County Report

#15 Craig Medvigny (left) And David Sutton Enjoying A Book; Eleanor Mann Substitute Traveling Branch Librarian, C. 1920s

Craig Medvigny (left) And David Sutton Enjoying A Book; Eleanor Mann Substitute Traveling Branch Librarian, C. 1920s

Kern County Library Report

Tammi Lamb 2 weeks ago

1920's?? I'd say more like 50's

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