Although I never worked on a bookmobile, my library system did have one when I started working there. I found this photo online from 1973, the year I started working for the Anne Arundel County Public Library. The photo was taken at the Anne Arundel County Fair. Do any of my former co-workers know who is in this photo?
I worked on a version of a bookmobile for 12 years, the library’s Care-A-Van. We delivered books to home bound people throughout the county. This was highly personalized service. We selected books for the patrons based on their interests or their specific requests. We were on the road 2-3 days a week covering a 588 square mile area.
I remember one gentleman who lived in an old slave/sharecroppers shack on a tobacco farm. The wood slat walls were insulated with newspaper. Another patron lived on the water with sweeping views of the Chesapeake Bay. We had patrons who were temporarily disabled and some who were bedridden. I visited homes of people who had lots of friends and family and others who were very much alone. There were several patrons that we got very attached to and went to their funerals when they passed away.
Due to budgets and changing times, this service was replaced with Books By Mail, which I worked on during the transition period. While it still provides library materials and services to those who are disabled, it just isn’t the same. I feel that the patrons and the library staff were both enriched by the one-on-one community outreach services. I know I was.