I’ve been thinking about bookmobiles lately. It all began when it was recommended that I read Audrey Niffenegger’s graphic novel, The Night Bookmobile. Inspired by an H.G. Wells short story, it spins a surreal tale about a woman walking the streets of Chicago late at night stumbling upon a bookmobile that contains every book she’s ever read. Not only every book, but every menu, sign, memo, cereal box, scrap of paper; literally everything she’s ever read collected in one endlessly expanding bookmobile.
While that tale’s bookmobile may only exist in the imagination there are plenty of real world bookmobiles to consider. The American Library Association’s has this useful summary of bookmobile services in the U.S., Mobile Library. The website says that in 2012 “six percent of public libraries had one or more bookmobile outlets, with a total of 683 bookmobiles.” Wisconsin has its own proud heritage of early libraries being carried by horse drawn carts, sleds in winter, then eventually cars, and finally bookmobiles. You can read more about this history at Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Bookmobiles.
Wanting to take their services to their customers where they are, Denver Public Library just introduced their pedal-powered mobile library and wi-fi hotspot. The brilliance of this concept is that the mobile library can be “stocked with a rotating collection of books tailored to the bike’s location (i.e. cookbooks and urban farming for farmer’s markets, bike repair and Denver maps for bike trails, etc).” What a great way to deliver exactly what a specific audience for library services and materials would be most interested in.
Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes, played host to another innovative book delivery project this summer. The Floating Library is an inspired public art project conceived by Sarah Peters. Its custom made raft allows “patrons in canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, skiffs, rowboats, or even inner tubes are invited to paddle up to the Library and browse the shelves from inside their watercraft.” The Floating Library is even staffed by water librarians who can help you with book recommendations and check out materials that circulate. Paddling to return your borrowed items would certainly make one appreciate the convenience of our library’s drop boxes!
And finally, while no one offers drone delivery of books yet, you can consider this video aerial tour of the New York Public Library!
So let us know if you have a favorite way to get your library services. Is it by land, by water, or by air?