DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

Library Take-Out

The first bookmobile, 1905

According to the Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science, outreach is defined as a library public service program initiated and designed to meet the information needs of an unserved or inadequately served target group.

A bookmobile is a large vehicle designed for use as a library. Since the establishment of the first “library wagon” service in Washington county Maryland in 1905, bookmobiles have remained an important tool in the outreach programs of many libraries. Mary Titcomb, first librarian of the Washington free county library, emphatically made the case for bookmobiles, arguing:

Would not a Library Wagon, the outward and visible signs of the service for which the Library stood, do much more in cementing friendship [than current outreach efforts]?…No better method has ever been devised for reaching the dweller in the country. The book goes to the man, not waiting for the man to come to the book.

The original bookmobile was a wagon drawn by two horses and driven by the library janitor. Bookmobiles have come a long way since then and many variations on the original theme have sprung up.

A pair of notable ones include Columbia’s “biblioburro” (a mobile library transported on donkeys) and Chicago’s book bike (which distributes books donated by publishers at public parks throughout the city).

Closer to home, DCPL had a bookmobile service at one point (briefly detailed here in paragraph five), though this is no longer in operation.  We do, however, have other outreach services including Library Take-Out (where we go into different communities to introduce library services to recent immigrants and residents of DeKalb who are not familiar with the library), Mailbox Books (where we mail books to library patrons who are unable to visit the library), Daycare / School Visits, and many Literacy Outreach programs.