8 Photos of the Bookmobiles We Needed Before the Internet Came Along

Library of Congress

A long, long time ago, rural homes had no way to get books other than from libraries on wheels. These bookmobiles traveled all over the countryside delivering literature to towns and villages.

The first bookmobile was a horse-drawn carriage appearing in Warrington, England, in the late 1850s. Later, vehicles outfitted with libraries lent out books, peaking in popularity in the mid-20th century.

Let’s look at some of these early book-delivery systems.

1. Mobile Library, Kurdistan Province, Iran, 1970

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

2. Bookmobile, Indonesia, Early 20th Century

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

3. First Motorized Bookmobile, Washington County, Maryland, 1912

4. Mobile Library, Anglesey, Wales, 1958

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

5. Lincoln County Public Library Bookmobile, Brookhaven, Mississippi, 1952

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

6. Monroe County Library Bookmobile at Charlie Battery of the Sixth Missile Battalion, Key West, Florida, 1964

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

7. Ottawa Public Library Bookmobile, 2005

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

8. Gaston County Bookmobile, Gastonia, North Carolina, 1935

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Lots of bookmobiles are still being used, but they’re mostly falling out of favor because digital materials are easier and less expensive to distribute.

But never forget what it feels and smells like to have a good old fashioned book in your hand. And, what a privilege it is to be able to use digital literature.

Bookmobiles and portable libraries still play an important role in reaching people who can’t download whatever they want to read.