This post was prompted by recent hype over the Subway Library that now serves some New Yorkers some times (SubwayLibrary.com) New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Library are now collaborating to reach straphangers with the incredible resources of those great institutions. Bibliophiles who ride the E and F lines will now be on the lookout for the ten brightly colored “subway libraries”—outfitted with seats designed to look like books on a shelf!
Mobile reads include children’s and YA titles, adult fiction, books about NYC, and new releases – readings are geared to short hops, longer rides and inevitable delays. If you happen to be headed for Gotham City in the near future, you’ll probably want to learn more – if not, here’s a quick intro: http://gothamist.com/2017/06/08/nypl_subway_library.php#photo-1
For some reason, probably because it’s summer in Minnesota, the subway library hype got me thinking about a legendary movement to expand access to good books and mobile library service. Though New Yorkers claim credit for most innovative thinking, the fact is that mobile library service enjoys a long and noble heritage.
In 1905 Mary L. Titcom, Librarian of the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown, Maryland, launched the first book wagon. Pulled by two horses, driven by the library janitor, the wagon shared library services with rural residents throughout the County.
And thus began the evolution of the bookmobile, a story beautifully shared by library lover Larry T. Nix in The Library History Buff, http://www.libraryhistorybuff.org/bookmobile.html
One way to celebrate Independence Day is to think about the ways in which libraries and librarians through the years have honored the individual’s right to read and the right to know. These photos will trigger your memory or expand your image and expectations: