Library on Wheels: Mary Lemist Titcomb and America's First Bookmobile
My next book is an illustrated biography of Mary Lemist Titcomb, the founder of the Bookmobile in America. It will be published by Abrams Books (NYC).
Early in 2014 as I was doing research for a children's book on America's first public lending library, I ran across a reference to Mary Lemist Titcomb (1852-1932), the inventor of the bookmobile.
I was immediately intrigued. A woman had invented the bookmobile? Growing up as I did in rural Utah, I have a strong emotional connection to the bookmobile. In fact, as I visit schools as an author, I often do a presentation called "I Grew Up in the Bookmobile."
As I began researching the beginnings of the bookmobile, I became more and more excited about the project. Mary was a remarkable woman in every way.
As a librarian in Hagerstown, Maryland, she was absolutely relentless in her dedication to the idea that books were for everyone--not just the rich, not just the educated, not just men and boys, not just the city-dwellers.
In 1905, she came up with the idea for and then designed America's first Book Wagon--a horse-drawn carriage fitted with shelves for books. Within a few years, Book Wagons began popping up all over the U.S.
By the 1960's, there were nearly 2,000 bookmobiles carrying books to over 50 million people in rural America.
(photos courtesy of the Western Maryland Regional Library)