As a part of National Library Week, today is National Bookmobile Day in The United States. And as a lifelong reader and supporter of public libraries, I just want to celebrate my love of bookmobiles and the librarians who run them. For many in rural communities, bookmobiles are the only way to access library books. And I wanted to remember the bookmobile librarian that helped me become the reader I am today.
I grew up in a tiny community in the rural West. It was miles from everywhere. The nearest town with banks, grocery stores, and a library was a 30 minute drive—in good weather. So my first exposure to a library and library books was the bookmobile. The bookmobile came to our house twice a month, every other Wednesday. Mr. Riggs, the librarian, would park the large bus-sized vehicle near our house. In the spring, when our yard was muddy, he would park in the driest spot possible and help my mother lay wooden boards to the door of the bookmobile as a makeshift sidewalk. This kept the mud out of both our house and the bookmobile!
Mr. Riggs really seemed to appreciate my mother’s love of books. I don’t recall him limiting the number of books I checked out. He knew my mother had taught me to love reading and to respect the books. I remember having a stack of 15 or so storybooks at one time checked out from the bookmobile. And I can honestly say I never lost or ruined any of the books I checked out from the bookmobile. Mr. Riggs would also set aside books for Mom. He knew what she loved to read and would make sure to get the books for her. The bookmobile also visited our elementary school. And once as I checked out a book at school, he gave me a book he knew she would want to read. Mom had not been home that day when he visited our house. Now, did the other patrons of the bookmobile receive such consideration? That I don’t know. What I do know is he recognized in my mother a fellow lover of books.
I, of course, didn’t know what a special person he was until after he retired from running our bookmobile. The next fellow (whose name I don’t remember) wasn’t as friendly. He put limits on the number of books I could checkout and, when I was a teenager, tried to stop me from checking out “inappropriate” books that I wanted to read. I continued to visit the bookmobile and check out books, but it wasn’t the same. As I read back over what I’ve written I see that it’s hard for me to differentiate between the man who ran the bookmobile and the bookmobile as a service. And I think that’s okay. Because of his kindness and dedication as a librarian and bookmobile operator, I became a supporter of libraries and librarians. And I passed the love of libraries along to my children because of Mr. Riggs and his bookmobile.
Here is the link to the page where I found The Bookmobile Bad Girl Image.
Do you have a bookmobile or library story? Share it in the comments below. Happy #NationalBookMobileDay, y’all!