The Bookmobile

The United States Bookmobile Today

While bookmobile services have slightly declined over the past two decades, the bookmobile remains an integral part of the American cultural landscape. With the exception of Maine, all U.S. states offer traveling branch library service, with Kentucky leading the pack at 98 bookmobiles!

Bookmobiles still serve their traditional rural audience, but have also become a reliable figure in urban communities suffering from library cutbacks and renovations, such as Brooklyn and Queens. Other urban public library systems, such as Chicago and Los Angeles, have established bookmobile programs that target senior citizens, child-care centers and disabled patrons, in addition to urban neighborhoods lacking nearby branch locations. New Orleans utilizes bookmobiles extensively as they struggle to rebuild following the destruction of half of their branch libraries by Hurricane Katrina.

Bookmobiles are not just for public libraries, either, with established projects such as the Internet Archive Bookmobile and Mobilivre making cross-country jaunts to cities and towns nationwide.

What you will find on this page

On this page you will find information about the state of bookmobile in the United States today, including bibliographies for adults and children, selected weblinks, and some examples of bookmobile memorabilia.

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Bookmobile Bibliography for Adults


Alloway, Catherine Suyak, Ed. The Book Stops Here: New Directions in Bookmobile Service. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1990.

American Library Association. The Bookmobile: A New Look. American Library Association, 1969.

Brown, Eleanor Frances. Bookmobiles and Bookmobile Service. Metuchen, N.J., Scarecrow Press, 1967.

Drury, James Westbrook. The Kansas Traveling Library Commission: An Administrative History. [Lawrence] Governmental Research Center, University of Kansas, 1965.

Eastwood, C. R. Mobile Libraries and Other Public Library Transport. London: Association of Assistant Librarians, 1967.

Hu, Teh-wei. An Alternative Benefit-Cost Analysis of Library Delivery Systems. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1975.

Sansom, Ian. The Mobile Library: The Case of the Missing Books. London: Harper Perennial, 2006.

Wisconsin Free Library Commission. Free Traveling Libraries in Wisconsin; the story of their growth, purposes, and development; with accounts of a few kindred movements. Madison, WI: Democrat Printing Company, 1897.


Barnes, Bill. Library Mascot Cage Match: An Unshelved Collection. Seattle, WA: Overdue Media, 2005.

Hamilton, Masha. The Camel Bookmobile: A Novel. New York: Harper Collins, 2007.

Summary: Establishing a bookmobile in a destitute Kenya village, well-intentioned Fiona Sweeny inadvertently renews a decades-old tribal feud involving a camel-powered bookmobile and prior efforts to promote local education.

Morley, Christopher. Parnassus on Wheels. Ashland, OR: Blackstone Audiobooks, p2000.

Summary: A horse drawn bookmobile, an eccentric literary fanatic, and a middle-aged housekeeper are drawn together by adventure and love.

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Juvenile Bibliography

Campbell, Rosemae Wells. Books and Beaux. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958.

Summary: A "career story about a girl who learns to love the thing she dislikes the most: being a librarian on a bookmobile in New England." - Publisher's advertisement.

Derby, Sally. Hannah's Bookmobile Christmas. New York : Henry Holt & Co., 2001.

Summary : Blue Bird the bookmobile provides shelter on a snowy Christmas Eve night.

Fernandez Garcia, Cesar. El bibliobus magico. Valencia, Spain: Editorial brief, 2001.

Summary: When a magic bookmobile visits a school, the children read the books and see themselves in the tales.

Heide, Florence Parry. Mystery of the Bewitched Bookmobile. Chicago: A. Whitman, 1975.

Summary: Why would anyone break into a bookmobile and take nothing? The Spotlight Club investigates.

Hill, Lee Sullivan. Libraries Take Us Far. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 1998 Summary: Surveys all kinds of libraries, from a monastery library full of handmade books to a school media center to a bookmobile.

Levinson, Nancy Smiler. Clara and the Bookwagon. New York: Harper & Row, 1988

Summary: Clara's dream of enriching her rough life on the family farm is fulfilled when a horse-drawn bookwagon visits with the country's first traveling library.

Munro, Roxie. The Inside-Outside Book of Libraries. New York: Dutton Children's Books, 1996.

Summary: Illustrations and brief text present all kinds of libraries, from bookmobiles and home libraries to the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress.

Ruurs, Margriet. My Librarian Is a Camel: How Books Are Brought To Children Around the World. Honesdale, Pa.: Boyds Mills Press, 2005.

Summary: Describes unusual mobile libraries found around the world

Sorensen, Virginia Eggertsen. Curious Missie. New York, 1953.

Sierra, Judy. Wild About Books. New York: Knopf, 2004.

Summary: A librarian named Mavis McGrew introduces the animals in the zoo to the joy of reading when she drives her bookmobile to the zoo by mistake

Sierra, Judy. Que locura por la lectura. New York: Lectorum, 2006.

Spinelli, Jerry. The Library Card. New York: Scholastic Books, 1997.

Summary: The lives of four young people in different circumstances are changed by their encounters with books.

Wild About Books [DVD] Norwalk, CT : Weston Woods Studios ; [New York] : Scholastic, 2005.

Summary: A librarian named Mavis McGrew introduces the animals in the zoo to the joy of reading when she drives her bookmobile to the zoo by mistake.

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Selected Websites of Interest

Bookmobile Statistics United States
US stats
Bookmobile user survey results – 1997
Graph of the number of bookmobiles by state

Articles about survival, demise or progress of bookmobiles US
Article from 2004 about bookmobiles and changing times
Article about Hawaii losing bookmobiles
New Hampshire and Vermont programs
Article about DC bookmobiles use when library undergoing renovations
Bookmobiles in Massachusetts, who they serve, what they mean and how they are becoming extinct
New generation of bookmobiles and who they serve

Various Bookmobiles Operating in the US and interviews with bookmobile managers
Floating bookmobile
Internet bookmobile
Interview with a developer of internet bookmobile
Article from 2002 about riding along with the internet bookmobile
Interview with bookmobile manager

US Bookmobile Guidelines
Pennsylvania code for bookmobiles
Buying a bookmobile: some hints
National guidelines for bookmobiles
10 ways to spice up bookmobile life
Bookmobile and innovative outreach theme for 10th annual diversity & outreach fair 6/07
Collaborative effort with schools and agencies & public libraries – short article

Sites with photos of current US bookmobiles
Photo and small article of an itty bitty bookmobile
Internet bookmobile photos of books bound on bookmobile
Photos of bookmobiles in a few states with links to bookmobile sites

100th year anniversary

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Bookmobile Memorabilia

This selection of memorabilia was found on ebay.

The first picture is a set of figurines at a bookmobile. This is a section of the Original Snow Village figurine set, originally issued in 1993 and was retired in 1995 and is now a collectors item.

Bookmobile figurine for sale on Ebay

The second picture is of a rare1966 Golden Book bookmobile pull toy. This book box is in the form of a truck with 4 plastic wheels that move. There are15 4” by 4” soft cover books in the back of the truck.

Bookmobile toy for sale on Ebay

The third item is a postcard of a 1958 Chevrolette bookmobile. The are a variety of bookmobile postcards circulating in postcard collector circles. These postcards are mainly of bookmobiles from the late 1950s through the 1960s

Tandem bookmobile advertising card for sale on Ebay

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