11 Bookmobiles that Make Archivists Want to Hit the Road

Librarians have different jobs than archivists. And the National Archives is not the Library of Congress (hi, neighbors!). But, librarians and archivists have a lot in common, and the Archivist of the United States had a long career as a librarian before crossing over to the other side of the stacks.

Like librarians, archivists love books–and we’d love to have any of these bookmobiles pull up in front of the National Archives Building on Pennsylvania Avenue. So until hipsters bring back the bookmobile (and we hope they do), get your mobile book fix from these historic photos.

Are you ready to join us? There’s plenty of room in our new Wanderbibliothek!

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Volkswagen Bus Serves as Bookmobile, Stuttgart, Germany

 

Once you check out your book, the best place to be seen reading it is on the hood of the bookmobile, obviously.

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Bookmobile in German Towns

 

It looks a little uncomfortable in this bookmobile but it also looks very organized, and this pleases us.

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Bookmobile, Stuttgart, Germany

 

This bookmobile was living the #vanlife before Instagram even existed.

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The Bookmobile Arrives at Lofer, 3/1953

 

If we did run away in a bookmobile, we’d take Miss Edna Ritchie, traveling librarian, with us.

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Miss Edna Ritchie and her old truck, converted into a traveling library, are a welcome sight to rural school children in Perry County, Kentucky, a remote, mountainous region of central United States. From the series Feature Packets with Recurring Subjects, 1953-1959, (NAID 1105040) in Record Group 306

 

She would be the perfect companion for an archivist on a bookmobile adventures–she loves books and preservation! So dreamy.

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Edna Ritchie, traveling librarian in the U.S. mountains of Kentucky, finds plenty to do between her weekly trips to remote rural schools. Books do wear out despite the best treatment, so she is kept busy rebinding them. Here she hand-stitches a worn volume. Mending torn pages, filing new books, and reading releases and reviews to choose additional volumes for the ever-growing library are some of her regular duties. From the series Feature Packets with Recurring Subjects, 1953-1959, (NAID 1105040) in Record Group 306

 

We’d also be happy to ride along with Miss Yulerette Smith (seen here in the middle), Bookmobile Librarian, of Jamaica!

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“Looking on in the picture, above, Mrs. Cumming presents the check to Miss Norma Segre (acting for the Director of the Jamaica Library Service) are school children, Bookmobile Librarian Yulerette Smith, Dr. Powell, Mrs. Hill, and Mrs. Rosalind McLaughlin, Acting Head of the Schools Departmant of the Jamaica Library Service.” From The Shield, April 1962

 

But whether we’re driving in a Kentucky holler or on a Jamaican hill, we’ll have to pack some clothes along with our books. These crowds at the bookmobiles always look sharp!

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Children and Teachers at Bookmobile, Rangoon

 

Really, looking dapper at the bookmobile is important.

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County Libraries Book Auto, Cincinnati & Hamilton Ohio

 

We’d travel all over the country, bringing a trusted hankie with us to dab at our eyes when we saw kids lining up to check out books. (Because allergies. Allergies!)

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 Taos County, New Mexico. Children line up for books when Taos County project bookmobile visits school at Prado.

 

We’d talk to all kinds of people and find out what they like to read! Maybe we’d even recommend some books about archives.

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WPA Library bookmobile

 

Bookmobile librarian! It sounds like the best job in the world (next to archivist, of course).

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Showing Children’s Books to Boys in Bookmobile, Panama City, 8/25/1952

 

3 thoughts on “11 Bookmobiles that Make Archivists Want to Hit the Road

  1. Looks like fun! Although I haven’t seen a book mobile, I’ve noticed in my neighborhood some “neighborhood libraries” are getting set up. Someone will put a nice wooden cart or box in their yard and neighbors can leave a book or borrow a book. It’s neat!

  2. When I attended a one-room country school, 12 miles from Santa Rosa, California in 1947-1953, there was a bookmobile that came to our school every other week during the school year. During the summer, our Mom would go shopping “in town” on Saturday while we went to the matinee movie, and then she would take us to the town library so we could check out books to take home and read. I got my first library card in June, 1947 and have had a library card ever since, no matter where we’ve lived. I don’t think I could exist with libraries and books. Thank you for bringing back memories of wonderful experiences.

  3. We had a bookmobile come to our rural one-room grammar school in Sonoma County, California every other week during the school year in 1947-1953. During the summer, our Mom would take us to the town library when we went to town to shop on Saturday, so we could check out books to take home and read. I got my first library card in June, 1947 and have had one ever since, no matter where we’ve lived. I do not think I could exist without a library or books. Thank you for bringing back some wonderful memories.

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