Librarians on Horseback
February 11, 2019 11:51 AM   Subscribe

Evocative photos of dedicated librarians delivering books to rural families. The Pack Horse Library Initiative, part of the Works Progress Administration suite of programs, was intended to improve literacy and thus readiness for employment. Precursor to Bookmobiles? The heroes we need...
posted by carmicha (11 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
More on mobile libraries, previously.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:59 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]

So badass.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:21 PM on February 11

This just made my day!
posted by acidnova at 12:41 PM on February 11

The mail always goes through (SFW, but the rest of the site is extremely not so)
posted by J.K. Seazer at 12:47 PM on February 11

I'm kind of surprised some mainstream US network (CBS) hasn't picked up on this and turned it into a show. A kind of Dr. Quinn meets Kung Fu (meets the Littlest Hobo) where a beautiful young woman rides her horse (or mule) across the country, helping out families and people in crisis wherever she goes. It has so many possibilities for romance and danger and preaching good moral lessons.

The added advantage is whenever the lead actress gets too uppity and demanding (which we know all women in Hollywood do), they can just swap her out for the next librarian saying the original got married/fell off a cliff/died of some terrible disease. The show can even run long enough to transition into the motorized vehicle period.
posted by sardonyx at 1:02 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]

I just learned about this from Susan Orlean's new book, The Library Book (which is great, and I'd strongly recommend it to anyone interested in Library Facts.)
posted by ITheCosmos at 1:59 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

Librarians...horseback...wait a second OMG does someone else remember Tomes and Talismans!? 🤓
posted by trackofalljades at 2:47 PM on February 11

I emailed the Stuff You Missed in History podcast to suggest this as a topic a year or two ago, and I never heard back. Maybe I should contact them again.

I would also definitely watch a TV show about this!
posted by Emmy Rae at 5:05 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

The Kitchen Sisters have a podcast series called The Keepers that is 'stories of activist archivists, rogue librarians, curators, collectors and historians'. The Pack Horse Librarians of Eastern Kentucky was Episode 2.

And thanks, trackofalljades, for the Tomes and Talimans link. How did I not know about that gem!
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 9:38 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

Yay! A couple of more previouslys (previouslies?) with more photos/content (although at least a couple of links in the OPs are DOA):

- Horse-Riding Librarians Were the Great Depression’s Bookmobiles
- Pack Horse Librarians
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 11:36 PM on February 11

Came back to add this about Mabel Wilkerson who answered this ad in Wyoming, 'Wanted: a young woman who is not only a college graduate with library school training and experience, but in addition must be able to get along with Western people, ride and drive, as well as pack a horse, follow a trail, shoot straight, run an automobile, and be able to ‘rough it’ whenever necessary...' There is a bookmark in her honor.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 6:17 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

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