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.

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in some parts of the world by libraries, schools, activists, and other organizations, they are widely thought to be an outdated service due to high costs, advanced technology and impracticality.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
Community Member
3 years 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
Community Member
3 years 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
Community Member
3 years 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
Community Member
3 years 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
Community Member
3 years 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

Catherine Rauch
Community Member
3 weeks ago

It looks like only men could borrow books from this one.

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#7

The Bookmobile In Columbia Park, C. 1940

The Bookmobile In Columbia Park, C. 1940

Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County Report

Fire Bird
Community Member
3 years 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

JessPotato84
Community Member
2 weeks ago

Ooh ooh, Multnomah County...that's *my* library! Wowee zowee! 📚😍

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#9

Book Caravan In Iowa, C.1927

Book Caravan In Iowa, C.1927

Report

Sonja Sundqvist
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Why would a city like this seems to be, not have a tax-supported library?

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#10

Multnomah County Library, 1926

Multnomah County Library, 1926

Multnomah County Library Report

Fire Bird
Community Member
3 years ago

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

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#11

Greensboro, North Carolina, 1936

Greensboro, North Carolina, 1936

Crossett Library Report

Gayle Rollins
Community Member
1 month ago

I remember but not this early

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#12

An Impatient Queue For A Dutch Bookmobile

An Impatient Queue For A Dutch Bookmobile

Bibliobussen Report

Pi...
Community Member
3 years ago

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

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#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

Albert Hinton
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Isn't this where somebody says,"Road?"

#14

Three Of The Bookmobile Staff, C.1930

Three Of The Bookmobile Staff, C.1930

Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County Report

Cleo Lampos
Community Member
4 weeks ago

Would this make a good Christmas novella?

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#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
Community Member
3 years ago

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

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#16

Mrs. Josie Sanders, Richard Sanders, Jerome Sanders And Two Younger Children. C1950s

Mrs. Josie Sanders, Richard Sanders, Jerome Sanders And Two Younger Children. C1950s

Kern County Library Report

Marcie Reinertson
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Such a sweet photo!

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#17

A Horse-drawn Cart In Washington In The 1900s. It Was One Of The First American Bookmobiles, Built In 1905, But Was Hit And Destroyed By A Train In 1910

A Horse-drawn Cart In Washington In The 1900s. It Was One Of The First American Bookmobiles, Built In 1905, But Was Hit And Destroyed By A Train In 1910

Crossett Library Report

Fire Bird
Community Member
3 years ago

looks like an artists rendering. Almost cartoonish.

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#18

A Bookmobile In Indonesia, Early 20th Century.

A Bookmobile In Indonesia, Early 20th Century.

wikimedia Report

Sandra Allen
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Again, males only.

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#19

A Mobile Library In Canterbury

A Mobile Library In Canterbury

Christchurch City Libraries Report

Pi...
Community Member
3 years ago

And now, we step into the more modern book mobiles of the lot.

#20

A Boston Public Library Bookmobile, 1963

A Boston Public Library Bookmobile, 1963

Boston Public Library Report

Cheryl Brightman
Community Member
3 years ago

I loved the bookmobile.Wish we still had them.

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#21

A Bus With A View, 1967

A Bus With A View, 1967

Bibliobussen Report

Brent Sarazin
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Now there is a Library with a..view.

#22

Utah State Library Bookmobile On The Road Circa 1970

Utah State Library Bookmobile On The Road Circa 1970

Utah State Library Report

Pi...
Community Member
3 years ago

Oh that scenery.... so breathtaking..

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#23

The Library's Bookmobile

The Library's Bookmobile

Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County Report

Bruce Stewart
Community Member
3 weeks ago

OHIO

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#24

Children Gathering At The Bookmobile, C. 1912

Children Gathering At The Bookmobile, C. 1912

Kern County Library Report

Fire Bird
Community Member
3 years ago

Nice. See the tail light? Just one as they were in the day but that one, I believe, was actually a lamp. Light it and drive at night.

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#25

Children Gathering At The Kern County Free Library Bookmobile At Aztec School, 1947

Children Gathering At The Kern County Free Library Bookmobile At Aztec School, 1947

Kern County Library Report

Fire Bird
Community Member
3 years ago

that girl's expression on the far left of the picture. Either she is having trouble reading or lunch isnt sitting to well with her.

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#26

A Very Fine Bookmobile Owned By The New Castle County Free Library

A Very Fine Bookmobile Owned By The New Castle County Free Library

Anne Arundel Country Public Library Report

Walter Johnson
Community Member
2 weeks ago

this is a 39 Chev prob. a wooden wagon converted.

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#27

Rockville Fair, Maryland, 1928

Rockville Fair, Maryland, 1928

Report

Mary Ellen Steele
Community Member
4 weeks ago

I agree. The contemporary version could read, "County Library We Need to Keep Ours'.

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#28

A Circulating Library In A Streetcar In Munich, Germany

A Circulating Library In A Streetcar In Munich, Germany

Crossett Library Report

Matt Leger
Community Member
4 weeks ago

Wow! I've never seen a streetcar library before. Why couldn't New Orleans have done that?

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#29

Bookmobile At Anne Arundel County Fair, 1973

Bookmobile At Anne Arundel County Fair, 1973

Report

#30

Sanpete County Bookmobile

Sanpete County Bookmobile

Utah State Library Report

Joni Wagner
Community Member
4 weeks ago

Why aren't all bookshelves, even in-home ones slanted even slightly? It just makes such good sense!

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#31

Summer Rural Service, 1936

Summer Rural Service, 1936

Multnomah County Library Report

Fire Bird
Community Member
3 years ago

Notice the hood emblem. Still called Dodge Brothers.

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#32

Bookmobile

Bookmobile

Multnomah County Library Report

Walter Johnson
Community Member
2 weeks ago

Its a dodge brothers.

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#33

The Book Caravan, One Of The First Traveling Bookshops, 1920.

The Book Caravan, One Of The First Traveling Bookshops, 1920.

Report

Brenda Blade
Community Member
4 weeks ago

Love this. Not a lot of people read books anymore but I do. There is nothing that compares to it!

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#34

Books Free For Everybody, Right At The Door – If You Vote "yes"

Books Free For Everybody, Right At The Door – If You Vote "yes"

Hans Krol Report

Connie Britt-Nixon
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Yes

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#35

Library Bookmobiles In Front Of Union Terminal

Library Bookmobiles In Front Of Union Terminal

Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County Report

Brent Sarazin
Community Member
3 weeks ago

What a beautiful building!

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#36

The Library’s Bookmobile In Sharonville, Circa 1938

The Library’s Bookmobile In Sharonville, Circa 1938

Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County Report

Marcie Reinertson
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Love this one too! Look at all the women eager to read and learn!

#37

California State Library Bookmobile, C. 1950

California State Library Bookmobile, C. 1950

Kern County Library Report

Robin Jaske
Community Member
1 month ago

This photo was taken at the Kern County Fairgrounds, possibly during the fair!

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#38

Patrons Visiting The Bookmobile

Patrons Visiting The Bookmobile

Anne Arundel Country Public Library Report

Rose Strunk-Antizzo
Community Member
1 month ago

love the smiles!!!!

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#39

Bookmobile, Southgate District, C. 1920s

Bookmobile, Southgate District, C. 1920s

Kern County Library Report

Kim Carnahan
Community Member
3 years ago

This is definitely not in the 1920s. The girl on the steps is wearing a 1940s style head wrap and cut off denim shorts, which would NEVER have been worn in the 20s, nor did little boys go shirtless or wear jeans. The styles indicate the 1940s.

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#40

Bookmobile In Madrid Spain

Bookmobile In Madrid Spain

Crossett Library Report

Dave Miller
Community Member
2 weeks ago

Wonder if that's a movie or slide screen in front ?

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#41

The Library's First Bookmobile, C. 1927

The Library's First Bookmobile, C. 1927

Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County Report

Balencia Erskine
Community Member
4 weeks ago

Same photo as #2

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#42

A Czech Book Truck

A Czech Book Truck

KMP Report

#43

Onboard The Connecticut State Library’s Bookmobile With Margaret Sullivan And Marcella Finan, 1967

Onboard The Connecticut State Library’s Bookmobile With Margaret Sullivan And Marcella Finan, 1967

Bristol Public Library Report

#44

Chris Junapa Standing In The Bookmobile, 1980

Chris Junapa Standing In The Bookmobile, 1980

Kern County Library Report

Balencia Erskine
Community Member
4 weeks ago

Standing? She looks like she is sitting to me.

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#45

Patrons Visiting The Bookmobile

Patrons Visiting The Bookmobile

Anne Arundel Country Public Library Report

Catherine Hammond
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Sign on the left "Manners can be fun". Love it!

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#46

Patrons Visit The Bookmobile In 1962. Mrs James B. Wilson, Librarian, Performs Readers' Advisory Service At Far Right

Patrons Visit The Bookmobile In 1962. Mrs James B. Wilson, Librarian, Performs Readers' Advisory Service At Far Right

Anne Arundel Country Public Library Report

Peg Wakefield Doheny
Community Member
2 weeks ago

That might as well have been me there at 10 yrs.old😁

#47

Carolyn Herntz Assists Patrons Visiting The Bookmobile, 1958

Carolyn Herntz Assists Patrons Visiting The Bookmobile, 1958

Anne Arundel Country Public Library Report

JessPotato84
Community Member
2 weeks ago

Are those magnets announcing the next arrival? Glob, these are all so incredible! 😮😍

#48

Patrons Visiting The Bookmobile

Patrons Visiting The Bookmobile

Anne Arundel Country Public Library Report

Peg Wakefield Doheny
Community Member
2 weeks ago

Looks like swim trunks on the little guy😉

#49

A Photo Of The Bookmobile From Washington County (md) Free Library

A Photo Of The Bookmobile From Washington County (md) Free Library

Anne Arundel Country Public Library Report

Walter Johnson
Community Member
2 weeks ago

early studabaker truck

#50

Bookmobile At Headquarters, 1977

Bookmobile At Headquarters, 1977

Kern County Library Report

John Olinger
Community Member
3 years ago

I drove this for 2 of my college years. 1974-76!

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#51

Presentation Of The New Bookmobile At The Paris Colonial Exposition Held In Paris France, 1931

Presentation Of The New Bookmobile At The Paris Colonial Exposition Held In Paris France, 1931

Crossett Library Report

Peg Wakefield Doheny
Community Member
2 weeks ago

Magnifique!

See Also on Bored Panda
#52

Bookmobile, About 1925

Bookmobile, About 1925

Multnomah County Library Report

Brent Sarazin
Community Member
3 weeks ago

That looks like an old milk truck converted.

#53

Bookmobile Interior, May 1927

Bookmobile Interior, May 1927

Multnomah County Library Report

Brent Sarazin
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Wow. The leather straps. That must have smelt really nice when the Sun would shine on it.

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#54

Bookmobile, 1930s

Bookmobile, 1930s

Multnomah County Library Report

Kristine Phillips
Community Member
3 years ago

Not a Radio Flyer?

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#55

Summer Book Wagon, 1928

Summer Book Wagon, 1928

Multnomah County Library Report

Roberta Paeper
Community Member
1 week ago

Kid on the right...too cool for school.

#56

Bookmobile, 1924

Bookmobile, 1924

Multnomah County Library Report

Miriam Plack
Community Member
4 weeks ago

Even Lassie loves books!!

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#57

Kids At Bookmobile

Kids At Bookmobile

Multnomah County Library Report

Brent Sarazin
Community Member
3 weeks ago

My God. What an amazing picture!

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#58

A Tram In Berlin With 2400 Books In Berlin, 1952

A Tram In Berlin With 2400 Books In Berlin, 1952

Junge, Peter Heinz Report

Michael Kenney
Community Member
2 weeks ago

Can't help but recall that only a few years earlier some people were burning books in Germany. Wonderful how enlightenment always returns. But at great cost.

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#59

Framingham Public Library, 1956

Framingham Public Library, 1956

Framingham Public Library Local History Report

Mitch Becton
Community Member
2 weeks ago

Is that you standing at the door holding the ladies hand

#60

Utah State Library Bookmobile On The Road, 1970

Utah State Library Bookmobile On The Road, 1970

Utah State Library Report

#61

The Bookmobile Of Providence Public Library, 1967

The Bookmobile Of Providence Public Library, 1967

Providence Public Library Report

See Also on Bored Panda
#62

Paul Buttars, Former Manager Of The Utah State Library Bookmobile Program, In One Of The “older” Bookmobiles. Taken In Chesterfield, Ut, C.1975

Paul Buttars, Former Manager Of The Utah State Library Bookmobile Program, In One Of The “older” Bookmobiles. Taken In Chesterfield, Ut, C.1975

Utah State Library Report

Brent Sarazin
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Wow, that baby sure saw better days eh.

#63

The Bicentennial Bookmobile In Utah, 1976

The Bicentennial Bookmobile In Utah, 1976

Utah State Library Report

#64

Patrons Visiting The Bookmobile

Patrons Visiting The Bookmobile

Anne Arundel Country Public Library Report

Nancy Nagler
Community Member
2 weeks ago

Yep. Brings back memories. Kids loved the books. ANY book.

#65

Bookmobile, C. 1950

Bookmobile, C. 1950

Kern County Library Report

Peg Wakefield Doheny
Community Member
2 weeks ago

Always so excited!

#66

Getting Ready, 1976

Getting Ready, 1976

Kern County Library Report

#67

Patrons Visiting The Bookmobile In 1962, Assisted By Mrs. James B. Wilson And Mrs. William H. Gary

Patrons Visiting The Bookmobile In 1962, Assisted By Mrs. James B. Wilson And Mrs. William H. Gary

Anne Arundel Country Public Library Report

Kim Carnahan
Community Member
3 years ago

Notice how the women were not identified by their own first names, but by their husbands'.

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#68

Patrons Visit The Bookmobile

Patrons Visit The Bookmobile

Anne Arundel Country Public Library Report

Toni Nase
Community Member
4 weeks ago

Oh lord, I had that dress, brown print with white collar and cuffs

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#69

Bookmobile, C. 1950

Bookmobile, C. 1950

Kern County Library Report

Michael Bratton
Community Member
3 weeks ago

The Postman would put a notice in the mailbox when the bookmobile would be coming down our street. I had a bike just like that.

#70

Interior Of A Circulating Library In A Streetcar In Munich, Germany

Interior Of A Circulating Library In A Streetcar In Munich, Germany

Crossett Library Report

#71

Patrons Visiting The Bookmobile

Patrons Visiting The Bookmobile

Anne Arundel Country Public Library Report

See Also on Bored Panda
#72

Bookmobile

Bookmobile

Multnomah County Library Report

Balencia Erskine
Community Member
4 weeks ago

By the licence plate it looks like it is 1929.

#73

Patrons In Bookmobile Line

Patrons In Bookmobile Line

Multnomah County Library Report

#74

Bookmobile, 1999

Bookmobile, 1999