Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

Words on Wheels

30 Comments

Original uploader was SimonP at en.wikipedia

Original uploader was SimonP at en.wikipedia

“Memories of childhood were the dreams that stayed with you after you woke.” ~ Julian Barnes

As a child growing up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., I loved the bookmobile. Twice a month a small library on wheels rolled into the neighborhood and parked in front of our house, there was nothing better. Feeling the wallop of arctic air the moment I climbed aboard; it was the perfect escape from the hot and sticky summer months.

Though I loved the library, the bookmobile was like a time-machine. The endless rows of books were friends who transported me to distant places. It was there I was introduced to “The Box Car Children” and “Nancy Drew Mysteries.” One stamp of black ink in the back of the book and it was mine to devour for two weeks.

The concept and reality of bookmobile service started in Hagerstown, Maryland in April, 1905. The Librarian of the Washington County Free Library, Mary L. Titcomb, sent out the first book wagon in the United States from the library.  The book wagon had space for 200 books on the outside and storage space for more books on the inside. The wagon was pulled by two horses while the janitor from the library held the reins. By 1937, the production of bookmobiles in the United States had increased to 60. This increase in production forced the American Library Association to provide guidance for libraries interested in acquiring a bookmobile.

I haven’t seen a bookmobile since my childhood, but they still exist today. There has been a decline in services over the years, but the bookmobile remains an integral part of our cultural landscape in all states with the exception of Maine. At last count, Kentucky leads the way with 98 bookmobiles.

Libraries are still in our communities and offer wonderful programs to inspire young readers. But as I watch public libraries reduce their hours and bookstores close their doors, I’m so grateful to have grown up in a time where bookmobiles traveled the streets of my neighborhood. Those days, my biggest decision during summer vacation was what book to take to the pool.

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Author: Jill Weatherholt

My name is Jill Weatherholt and I’m a writer. I have a full-time job, but at night and on the weekend, I pursue my passion, writing. I write modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness. I started this blog as a way to share my journey toward publication and to create a community for other new writers. Raised in the Washington, DC area, I’ve lived in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2004. I hold a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and a Certification in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. My first book, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE, will release in March, 2017. It's now able for pre-order on Amazon. I was the first place winner in the Dream Quest One Short Story Contest in the Winter 2014-2015 competition. In 2014, I placed second in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. I was also a top ten finalist in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest in 2012 and 2013. I’m a 2010 and 2012 winner of the NaNoWriMo Contest. I love to connect readers, visit me at jillweatherholt.com

30 thoughts on “Words on Wheels

  1. Your passion for books reminds me of my childhood too. I was always so glued to books specially in the school library that my library teacher created a job for me as in charge of the library as a student and I think I had read all the books in the library. Now ebooks are popular. But I think it’s important to encourage reading in children since childhood which carries on in later life as well. Thanks for the lovely post. It took me to my childhood days.

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    • Thank you for your kind words, Samina. That is so cool you were the student in charge of the library. That would have been a dream come true for me! 🙂 Unfortunately, I think these days, many children and young adults would rather play video games or be on Facebook than read a book, especially if their parents aren’t readers.

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  2. Although I’m familiar with the concept, I’ve never actually experienced the bookmobile. It was interesting to read about its history. I think I’ll do some investigating into whether bookmobiles exist in my area. Great post!

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    • Thank you, Gwen! The bookmobile is such a great childhood memory for me. I wish children today could experience it, but as gasoline prices continue to rise, I’m afraid they will become obsolete.

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  3. Our bookmobiles only sold books and were not connected to the library, but I still loved climbing in the back of that thing! I usually walked ut with a book about dinosaurs or bugs.

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  4. I remember the bookmobile from when I was a child, but I haven’t seen one for years. Our libraries here in Australia are slowly closing their doors and I’m wondering if my grandchildren or great grandchildren will one day write a post about the thing they remember called a ‘library’! (I hope not) 😯

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    • I haven’t seen one since it stopped coming to our neighborhood, Diane. I was surprised to read they’re still in existence, especially with the price of gasoline. I hope your grandchildren or great grandchildren never write such a post.

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  5. Just like you, Jill, I have fond memories of visiting the bookmobile as a child. I livd inane outer suburb of Melbourne (Australia) and although our school had a library we didn’t have a “proper” library close by. the book mobile would visit my school every two weeks and I remember being so excited when I realised it was “bookmobile day.”

    I haven’t seen one in years and I wonder if they still operate here.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

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    • Oh Lisa, you’re very welcome. I’m happy to hear you were able to experience the bookmobile as a child. Despite being so young, I still have very vivid memories. Thank you for stopping by. Have a great weekend!

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  6. Arrgh! That should have read, “…lived in an outer suburb…”

    Note to self: please proofread before posting!

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  7. Jill, thanks for sharing this beautiful childhood memory. I haven’t had the joy of experiencing a bookmobile.
    I also enjoyed the Nancy Drew books:-)

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  8. I’ve never seen a bookmobile (grew up in the Adirondacks of NY), but I love the concept. What a great memory from your childhood!

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  9. I’ve never seen a bookmobile either, but I would have loved one. We didn’t have air conditioning when I grew up, and I do remember many hot summer days spent at the nearby bookstore, though. Not quite as fun as a bookmobile, but still a pretty great place to spend the hottest hours of the day.

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  10. Oh my gosh – you gave me a blast from my past! The only thing better than a day when the bookmobile hit out street in suberbia was a day when the book mobile AND the Good Humor truck visited – sweet childhood bliss!

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    • Oh yes! That was the perfect day when both the book mobile and the Good Humor truck rolled through the neighborhood. I’m happy you were able to experience the joys of the book mobile, many commentors weren’t as lucky. Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. I remember anxiously waiting each week when the the bookmobile would show up in out little town. Thanks for this memory Jill 🙂

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  12. I do still see a bookmobile occasionally driving around our town, but I have no idea how you get to use it. I’m waiting for a card to drop through the letterbox to say I’m old or infirm enough to join? 🙂

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