hurf durf book eater
December 16, 2006 7:07 PM   Subscribe

"Learn me to read, book lady.... Please if you learn me, I won't be lonesome any more. I broke my back last year. It wan't mended yet." A look at WPA Travelling Libraries. See also: Free traveling libraries (Wisconsin), Lighthouse libraries (Coastal U.S.), Blue Trunk Medical Libraries (Africa), Bus Libraries (China), a few miscellaneous mobile libraries, and this one from the 16th Century. And yes, there's some YouTube.
posted by jessamyn (10 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
amazing post!
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:37 PM on December 16, 2006

I freakin' loved my bookmobile. I knew some of the librarians so they let me check out 3 or 4 books instead of just 2!!!
posted by Science! at 7:55 PM on December 16, 2006

Cool. I first learned about the WPA mule librarians in Paul Dickson's _The library in America : a celebration in words and pictures_, ISBN 0816013659 (a book I recommend highly for library fans). Those women epitomize the public library culture to me - they worked long, hard hours in horrible conditions for nearly no money to bring donated materials to their patrons.

I wish we were doing similar things these days, rather than watching hours being cut and branches being closed, while usage is skyrocketing (as it always does in a bad economy).
posted by QIbHom at 8:12 PM on December 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

What a great story of the mule back library in the Kentucky backwoods.

ahh, I love libraries. My favorite library, The Donnell in NYC, where the original stuffed animals, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Kanga and Eeyore are in the children's section.

The Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in the Himalayas, where I lived and studied for a year and a half in the mid-seventies.

The Kenyan library on camel back is way cool. In Shawshank Redemption I always liked it that Andy Dufresne made an extended library in the prison and told his fellow prisoner that Alexandree Dumb-Ass (Alexandre Dumas) wrote an escape-from-prison book (The Count of Monte Cristo).

Some fun old pics of WPA libraries and a bookmobile of yore.
posted by nickyskye at 8:21 PM on December 16, 2006

Whoa, awesome!
posted by OmieWise at 8:35 PM on December 16, 2006

We still have a Bookmobile here in rural West Marin County and feel lucky to have its services in Tomales and Dillon Beach, since the nearest Marin County library branches are 17 and 22 miles away, in Point Reyes Station and Inverness, respectively!
posted by Lynsey at 9:57 PM on December 16, 2006

Magnificent! And now I want one of those lighthouse libraries, and I want it filled with all those books they mention. Who can resist MY APINGI KINGDOM: WITH LIFE IN THE GREAT SAHARA, AND SKETCHES OF THE CHASE OF THE OSTRICH, HYENA, &c.?
posted by languagehat at 5:45 AM on December 17, 2006

Fascinating, thanks.
posted by paduasoy at 6:12 AM on December 17, 2006

The bookmobiles are vans now, but they still run in the part of Kentucky written about it in the first link. They used to come out once a week for me when I stayed with my grandmother in the summers, and would get as close to the houses as they could - not all houses there could be reached in a car.
posted by dilettante at 9:19 AM on December 17, 2006

Wow, the story of the Kentucky travelling "book ladies" truly touched me.
posted by ruelle at 1:44 PM on December 17, 2006

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