I’m sure you’re familiar in principle with “Meals on Wheels,” but what is brain food, or food for thought, on wheels? If you guessed “a bookmobile,” you’re right.
According to Richard Lederer’s book THE MIRACLE OF LANGUAGE, the first bookmobile in the U.S. was a horse-drawn wagon operating out of Hagerstown, Maryland. It started making its rounds over 100 years ago—back in 1905, to be precise.
But transported books, though not for public borrowing, far pre-date the Maryland bookmobile, Lederer tells us. He writes of sixteenth century author Desiderius Erasmus (who penned IN PRAISE OF FOLLY). It seems Erasmus travelled Europe extensively and, saying, “My home is where my books are,” dedicated one donkey in his caravan just to carrying his books.
My own personal experience with bookmobiles is limited; I far preferred libraries when there was no impediment to getting to them. (For decades I was severely agoraphobic, which inhibited my ability to get around as much as I would have liked.) Bookmobiles were a fine invention indeed, but libraries naturally offered a far greater selection to choose from.
I have written in this space recently of my love affair with libraries, but despite my preference for the smorgasbord of books on offer in a library, I am not completely inexperienced with regard to bookmobiles nor immune to their siren song.
As a child I lived within walking distance of the public library serving our town and the next town over. Now, I live a very short drive from our village’s library and not much farther a distance from the main branch of our county’s library. But in the in-between years, I was an “infrequent frequenter” of bookmobiles, and indeed I see them as a wonderful invention.
Let’s hear it for bookmobiles—bringing good books to you.