Friday, April 13, 2018

Library on Wheels - by Sharlee Glenn

This week (April 8-14) is National Library Week. Wednesday (April 11) was National Bookmobile Day. It was also the day that Glenn's book about the very first Bookmobile was published. I had pre-ordered it from Amazon, and it was shipped on Wednesday, arrived to Thursday, and read (by me) on Friday. Well researched and illustrated with historic photographs, letters, and other period artifacts, this book tells the story of Mary Lemist Titcomb, chief librarian of the Washington County (Maryland) Free Library from 1901-1931. Titcomb established several innovative library programs in the early 19th century, including instituting one of the first children's rooms, and delivering books and other library materials to schools. Not content with simply serving those who were able to come to the public library in Hagerstown (the county seat) Titcomb launched a story hour program for rural children, and set up book depositories in smaller towns, to ensure that access to books and reading was widespread. Realizing she was still not serving all residents, she commissioned the first bookmobile in the United States - a horse drawn wagon whose route included family farms and other isolated areas. The wagon was driven by the library's janitor, Joshua Thomas, who proclaimed himself to be a "Book Missionary" on the 1910 U.S. census.

My favorite part of this book has to be this bit from a newspaper article written about Ms. Titcomb for The (Hagerstown) Builder 
The hostess was most gracious, most charming. She wore a soft gray silk and a dainty slipper was visible. The hostile one saw it, saw too-could she believe it?-the feminine frivolity, a jeweled buckle. She heard too, the little woman discussing "Spring Fashions" vivaciously, knowingly, for Miss Titcomb is no mean authority on style and her dress, like her work, is always up-to-date.
It seems you can be fashionable while wearing sensible shoes.

For more books that feature bookmobiles (including another one about the very first bookmobile) you can see my previous posts here.

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