April 7, 2021, marks a special day for libraries as we join the American Library Association (ALA) in celebrating National Library Outreach Day (formerly referred to as National Bookmobile Day). Library outreach holds the indispensable purpose of meeting patrons right where they are. Not everyone has the means, ability, or privilege to go to the library in-person. Libraries help meet these needs by extending their services outside of the library walls. From bookmobiles to story times at childcare centers to partnering with community organizations for programming, this outreach can create truly meaningful experiences for people.
Bookmobiles in particular hold a distinctive charm. There’s something to be said for getting a visit from a mobile library squashed delightfully full with books. It’s like the magical wonder of an ice cream truck appearing around the block when you were a kid (only better). Mobile libraries have the opportunity to plant a garden of library resources directly into the community. The ALA highlights the value of bookmobiles, stating: “Bookmobiles and direct-delivery outreach services are, and continue to be an integral, vital part of libraries around the country. For over 100 years bookmobiles have served rural, urban, suburban and tribal areas, bringing access to information and life-long learning resources to all classes and communities.” In honor of library bookmobiles, check out these books about mobile libraries. Happy Library Outreach Day!
Children’s Books About Mobile Libraries
Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown and John Parra
Inspired by the real life of librarian Luis Soriano and his mobile library in Colombia, this sweet children’s book tells the story of a young girl named Ana. Ana loves telling her little brother stories, but after having read all of the books in her village, she often has to create her own. Then one day, the BiblioBurro comes to town with a library collection resting on the backs of two burros.
The Library Bus by Bahram Rahman and Gabrielle Grimard
Pari holds the special job of helping her Mama on the library bus. Their mobile library has many stops in Afghanistan, including a refugee camp. When the library bus pulls in, girls come rushing to check out the new books. Though Pari can’t read yet, next year she’ll go to school to start learning. This heartfelt story shares the wondrous impact of a mobile library and celebrates women’s right to read.
Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile by Gloria Houston and Susan Condie Lamb
Dorothy loves reading so much, she grows up to become a librarian. When she finds that her new town in North Carolina doesn’t have a library building, Dorothy sets out to create a library bookmobile. With her books in tow, she meets the members of her community right where they are — even in the middle of a river!
Middle Grade & Young Adult Books About Mobile Libraries
Angel of Greenwood by Randi Pink
The year is 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Though perceived as a troublemaker, Black 17-year-old Isaiah is a secret bookworm and poet, passionate about the works of W.E.B. Du Bois. Angel, on the other hand, is a 16-year-old Black girl who loves the works of Booker T. Washington and is often written off as a rule-following introvert. When their English teacher invites them to help with her bicycle mobile library, feelings begin to bloom between the two teens. This is the summer of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 though, and Isaiah and Angel are about to bear witness to the horrific massacres on Black Wall Street. Randi Pink interweaves threads of hope amidst great devastation and heartbreak, crafting a powerful and important read. TW: Assault, death, racism.
Sophie & the Bookmobile by Kathleen M. Jacobs
Sophie loves her life in New York City; she has great friends and a beautiful and grand library to visit whenever she wants. When her parents break the news that they’ll be moving to West Virginia, Sophie must say goodbye to her beloved city and the life she had there. In her new town, Sophie is crestfallen to learn there is no brick and mortar library here. Then one day, her world gets a little brighter when she stumbles upon a treasure within the community: the county library bookmobile.
Adult Books About Mobile Libraries
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
When British-born Alice marries the handsome American Bennett, she hopes her new life in the mountains of Kentucky will be the adventure she’s been dreaming of. The more Alice gets to know her new husband and father-in-law though, the more she longs for freedom. Alice seizes her chance when a call goes out for packhorse librarians. Brimming with friendship, love, and strong female heroines, this novel shines light on the profound impact of mobile libraries within rural communities.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
Looking for another inspiring adventure about the Kentucky packhorse libraries initiative? Check out this bestselling novel by Michele Richardson. Set in 1936 Troublesome Creek, Kentucky, the story follows Cussy, the last living blue-skinned female of Appalachia. Joining the ranks of the packhorse librarians, Cussy traverses the wild beauty of the Kentucky wilderness to spread joy in her community through the books she carries.
Lending a Paw (A Bookmobile Cat Mystery #1) by Laurie Cass
If you thought bookmobiles were charming on their own, add in a cat and you’ve got some next level cozy comfort. Librarian Minnie drives her bookmobile around her Michigan resort town with her co-pilot, a sweet rescue cat named Eddie. Things seem to be going smoothly for the pair until they reach their last stop, and Eddie discovers nothing short of a dead body. Minnie considers letting the police get to the bottom of this mystery, but Eddie may just be on to something.
Looking for more books about mobile libraries and library outreach? Check out the following:
- 5 Great Books About Bookmobiles
- A Brief History of American Bookmobiles…in Pictures
- Library Style: Looking Good for the Bookmobile
- Boats, Bread, and BiblioBurros: Unusual Libraries Around the World
- Libraries Offering Services to Seniors During Covid-19 Pandemic
- How Library Social Workers Provide Community Support