History of Bookmobiles

The timeline will trace the history of bookmobiles in the United States from the first "traveling collections" of 1893 to the current "bookmobiles, mobile libraries and cybermobiles" they have developed into during the 21st Century.

Across the U.S.

300 bookmobiles were in use in 41 states (Hawk, 2008).

Fuel Costs

Bookmobile services leveled out, and some were eliminated, due to rising fuel costs in the 1970s and 80s (Hawk, 2008).

Schoolhouse Wagons

Wisconsin led the way by using wagons to make book deliveries to schoolhouses. (Hawk)


Vehicles were specifically designed to deliver books (Hawk).

And more

2,000 bookmobiles operating throughout the United States (Hawk, 2008).

Traveling Collections

The first implementation of taking collections of books to people emerged in 1893 and in 1899 there were 2,500 traveling collections. Melvil Dewey was the leader of this service idea. (Hawk, 2008. p. 57)

Mail Delivery

Libraries began sending books by mail to areas that were not reached by traveling collections. (Hawk, 2008)

Library Wagon

Hagerstown, Maryland requested a library wagon to deliver books to under-served farming areas. Mary Lemist Titcomb was the driving force behind these rural library services. (Hawk, 2008)

First Bookmobile

The Washington County Free Library was the first to specifically design a wagon to be used as a bookmobile. Headed by Mary L. Titcomb, the actual horse drawn wagon was driven by janitor, Joshua Thomas. (Hawk, 2008)

Motorized Bookmobiles

The first motorized bookmobiles were introduced, expanding services to rural areas, schools and residential facilities. (POV)

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