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National Bookmobile Day – April 26, 2023

We celebrate National Bookmobile Day on the Wednesday during National Library Week in April every year. This year, it takes place on April 26. Bookmobiles are mobile libraries that help transport books from one local community to another. These are traveling vehicles that have books inside. They look like a little traveling library. Bookmobiles help make reading more accessible to people who usually don’t get access to the bigger public libraries. It also encourages people to donate their own books to the cause. National Bookmobile Day celebrates this bookmobile service that is brought to numerous communities. The occasion also celebrates the work and dedication of the many people involved, such as library professionals, drivers, donors, and so on.

History of National Bookmobile Day

The beginning of the bookmobile tradition in the United States is credited to librarian Mary Titcomb, who launched the first bookmobile in the early 20th century. Titcomb wanted to start a transport system to get books to rural communities. Her bookmobile was a horse-drawn wooden carrier that contained boxes of books. These boxes were sent to post offices and nearby stores. In 1912, horses were switched out and the first motorized bookmobiles were born. These bookmobiles went to rural and urban schools, as well as to the homes of senior communities. They were even sent to people in remote mountainous areas where access to libraries is scarce.

The Great Depression and the World Wars had a negative impact on this initiative, and for a while, bookmobiles were on the decline. However, during the 1950s, they made a comeback. This resurgence came about due to the Library Services Act of 1956. Bookmobiles helped expand library services to reach more than 30 million people in small rural communities. Sadly, rising fuel costs once again threw a spanner in the works.

Thanks to the invention of the internet, many 21st-century bookmobiles have shifted to digital platforms in order to meet people’s reading needs while also cutting down on fuel costs.

In 2010, National Bookmobile Day was established and began to be celebrated as a part of National Library Week. This was done to show gratitude to all the library transport services provided in various communities around the United States. The American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country sponsor this event.

National Bookmobile Day timeline

Early 20th Century
Mary Titcomb Launches the First Bookmobile

A horse-drawn carriage begins transporting books to rural communities.

1912
The First Motorized Bookmobiles

Horse-drawn carriages are replaced by motorized bookmobiles that travel to remote areas, schools, and senior centers.

1956
The Resurgence of Bookmobiles After World Wars

The Library Services Act of 1956 helps bookmobiles reach more than 30 million people.

2010
National Bookmobile Day is Born

The American Library Association sponsors this event as a part of National Library Week to show gratitude to all library transport services.

National Bookmobile Day FAQs

Does the bookmobile still exist?

Yes, bookmobiles still operate in some local communities. You can find the bookmobile route closest to you online.

How much does a bookmobile cost?

It costs about $200 000 every year to keep a bookmobile on the road.

How does a bookmobile work?

Instead of people going to the library, the library comes to the people with the help of a bookmobile. These traveling libraries visit various neighborhoods and loan books to those wanting something to read.

National Bookmobile Day Activities

  1. Give your old books away

    If you have tons of old books piling up at home and cluttering your space, it’s time to give them away. Your books will be useful to someone else.

  2. Write a thank-you note

    Showing gratitude costs nothing. It doesn’t take much to write a thank-you note to the local bookmobile driver or a librarian for their services.

  3. Spread awareness

    Many people might not know about bookmobiles. Educating others about where they can find these libraries is also important.

5 Important Facts About Bookmobiles

  1. Some bookmobiles are on boats

    In India, boats were historically used to transport books, since many villagers traveled by boats.

  2. Camels help transport books in Kenya

    In 1996, the Kenyan government launched the Camel Library Service, which uses camels to move books from one community to another.

  3. Eco-friendly bookmobiles in Portland

    Street Books, a nonprofit bookmobile in Portland, Oregon, uses bicycle-powered carts to lend books to homeless people.

  4. Thailand has elephant-drawn libraries

    Elephants are used to transport books to various remote places in Thailand.

  5. A haven for homeless children

    The Library Train for Homeless Children project in Bangkok has converted a train to a library, classroom, computer car, and music car for homeless children.

Why We Love National Bookmobile Day

  1. It inspires us to create reading habits

    Bookmobiles help us cultivate healthy reading habits. It also sustains a lifelong demand for curiosity and knowledge.

  2. It’s a chance to help those less fortunate

    By donating books, we ensure that knowledge continues to flow and find readers. Bookmobiles are a collective effort where everyone comes together for a common cause.

  3. It inspires positive change

    Supporting bookmobile services is supporting access to learning. It is a grassroots attempt to create long-lasting transformations in society.

National Bookmobile Day dates

YearDateDay
2022April 6Wednesday
2023April 26Wednesday
2024April 10Wednesday
2025April 10Thursday
2026April 10Friday

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