|ALA's promotion for National Bookmobile Day|
Bookmobile services around the country have been in decline for many years, though there are many rural and urban areas that are still served by them. Changing technology is causing libraries to become more virtualized and less dependent on physical space. In one sense, bookmobiles of yore were a kind of virtual library since they traveled to where the patrons were. As Mary Titcomb, founder of the first U.S. bookmobile said, "The book goes to the man, not waiting for the man to come to the book." The same could be said of today's eBooks and other virtual library services. A bit of Maryland pride here, that first U.S. bookmobile was part of the Washington County Free Library, where Titcomb was a librarian. Bookmobile vehicles vary according to geography; in some countries, animals such as burros or elephants are used to deliver books. And in Norway, the mobile library floats in on a boat! Children of disadvantaged communities have long looked forward to the weekly bookmobile visit when they could board the vehicle and check out their books. I've never had the pleasure of working on a bookmobile, but I've known colleagues who have and all unanimously agree that it is one of the most rewarding work they've ever experienced.
History of bookmobiles - Library on Wheels - From Wagons to Buses