or mobile library
is a large vehicle
designed for use as a library
. They are designed to hold books on shelves so that when the vehicle is parked the books can be accessed by readers. They usually have sufficient space that people can also sit and read books inside them. Mobile libraries are often used to provide library services to villages and city suburbs without library buildings. They also service those who have difficulty accessing libraries, with retirement homes being common stops. They may also carry other information or computer
equipment, such as might be found in a library. Some libraries also use their bookmobiles to deliver materials, such as audio books and large print novels, to homebound patrons who don't have anyone to go to the library for them.
The first Bookmobile in the United States was developed by Mary Lemist Titcomb (1857-1932). While employed at the Washington County, Maryland Free Library, Titcomb was concerned that the library was not reaching all of the people it could. So, she worked on a plan for a book wagon. In 1905 the Washington County Free Library provided the first book wagon in the nation to residents by taking the books directly to their homes in remote parts of the county.
The Gerstenslager company specialized in building mobile libraries and similar vehicles in the 1950s.
Other mobile libraries
Bookmobiles are used in many countries, but a mobile library can be run without a vehicle. Examples include:
- A Camel Library Service in Kenya. This service which is funded by the Kenyan government and as a charity in Garissa and Wajir near the border with Somalia. The service started with three camels in October 1996 and had twelve in 2006 delivering 7000 books, daily in both English, Somali and Swahili This service has been used as a background for the novel "The Camel Bookmobile" by Masha Hamilton.
- A Donkey-drawn mobile library in Zimbabwe is being used to not only deliver books, but also to deliver access to the internet and multimedia.
- The Internet Archive Bookmobile, which prints out-of-copyright books on demand. The project has spun off similar efforts elsewhere in the developing world.