HISTORY HAPPENINGS: Bookmobiles | The Gazette

A younger reader, armed with books from her go to to the bookmobile, faces down one other baby, armed with a snowball, someday within the Fifties or Nineteen Sixties. Our cash is on the booklover. (Cedar Rapids Public Library)

The youthful of your two writers noticed a number of #throwbackthursday posts on Instagram from the Cedar Rapids Public Library highlighting bookmobiles.

The older of your two writers instantly fell down a nicely of nostalgia, having been a daily Bookmobile patron within the late Nineteen Seventies and early Nineteen Eighties. The bookmobile cease within the parking zone of the Eagle grocery retailer (now True Worth {Hardware}) on Mount Vernon Highway SE was a sacred spot for a younger reader falling in love with books.

The Cedar Rapids Public Library first despatched a Bookmobile out into the group in 1952. It had six stops on its route. In 1954, a second car was added. Ten years later, in 1964, a 3rd Bookmobile was added to the fleet. At the moment, cell service was expanded to incorporate Saturdays, with 19 neighborhoods served by the three automobiles.

1962 stats

A Gazette article on Sunday, Oct. 7, 1962, shared some spectacular stats concerning the two bookmobiles in operation on the time. It reported:

Simply as the primary library and Kenwood department have their very own collections, the bookmobiles function with a joint assortment, all ordered particularly for bookmobile use and all duplicates of fabric accessible on the fundamental library.

It totals 27,598 books, together with 10,500 grownup titles and 17,000 juvenile. New books and replacements are added on the price of 6,000 a yr. The bigger bookmobile carries 3,500 books, the smaller, about 3,000 … .

The place of bookmobile service within the complete library program is unquestioned; it accounts for roughly 35 p.c of the system’s complete annual circulation.

The 2 models circulated 311,622 books in 1961, greater than 14 p.c over 1960. Circulation for the primary 9 months of this yr is 276,285, or 13.5 p.c over a yr in the past.

Extra numbers

Bookmobile No. 3 added vital capability, as famous in The Gazette on Sunday, Oct. 25, 1964:

Bookmobile No. 3 is a giant one, 7 ft extensive and 28 ft lengthy inside. It has a capability of 4,000 books or extra…There may be an intercom system between the entrance and rear desks of the Bookmobile — a necessary function throughout peak hours when as many as 50 or 60 individuals jam the 21-foot service aisle.

Within the tight quarters of a bookmobile, the driving force’s seat additionally served because the circulation desk within the Fifties or Nineteen Sixties. (Cedar Rapids Public Library)

The record of 1965 bookmobile stops included:

  • Monday: Williams Boulevard at Eighth Avenue SW; and J Road at Wilson Avenue SW
  • Tuesday: Middle Level Highway at forty second Road NE; and Dairydale Baptist Church parking zone, 3408 Mount Vernon Rd. SE
  • Wednesday: Municipal parking Lot, sixteenth Avenue at C Road SW; Farm Market, 1556 First Ave. NE; and Cedar Hills, Plainview Drive NW
  • Thursday: Ninth Road at 18th Avenue SW; and St. James Methodist Church parking zone, 1430 Ellis Blvd. NW
  • Friday: Farm Market, Oakland Highway at thirty second Road NE; and East Solar Mart, 2405 Mount Vernon Rd. SE
  • Saturday: F Avenue at nineteenth Road NW; and Lincolnway Village at Mayden Avenue and Colorado Drive SW

Younger and previous readers alike go to a Cedar Rapids bookmobile on Oct. 7, 1962, throughout its cease at Middle Level Highway and forty second Road NE in Cedar Rapids. In three-and-a-half hours, 754 books have been checked out. (Gazette archives)

Librarian Pat Bradford checks the ebook alternatives of Diane Stastny throughout a Might 27, 1958, bookmobile cease in northwest Cedar Rapids. (Gazette archives)


Regardless of the notion in 1962 that “the place of bookmobile service within the complete library program is unquestioned,” a decade later the primary two automobiles had been retired.

In 1983, the library determined to retire the one remaining bookmobile (the one in every of your creator’s childhood) due, partially, to the expense of changing the ageing car. The primary bookmobile had price $11,700; a alternative for Bookmobile No. 3 was estimated to price $100,000.

Not everybody was happy, in fact, together with Mary Wright who wrote a letter to the editor in January 1983 expressing her displeasure. It learn, partially:

“The bookmobile is such a useful service as a result of it makes books accessible to individuals all through the town on a weekly foundation. Not solely kids’s ebook, tapes and data but in addition ebook and periodicals for adults can be found. Any particular ebook that you just request will be placed on the bookmobile with only a phone name to the general public library. In case you have by no means used the bookmobile, cease by now and see what you’d be shedding.”

Smaller variations

For some time, a Friendsmobile — a van operated by Buddies of the Cedar Rapids Public Library — continued to hold as much as 1,300 books to varied places, however that effort, too, pale away.

The idea is just not totally misplaced, nevertheless. Since 2021, the Cedar Rapids Public Library has supported the Cellular Expertise Lab, which offers entry to expertise across the group. This summer time, the Cellular Expertise Lab added an older expertise to its stock. It began carrying some books.

We wish to thank Alison Gowans of the Cedar Rapids Public Library for her help with this text.

Jessica Cline is a Management & Character Scholar at Wake Forest College. Her dad, Rob Cline, is just not a scholar of any sort. They write this month-to-month column for The Historical past Middle. Feedback: [email protected]

The Friendsmobile stood in for the a lot bigger bookmobiles in Cedar Rapids after Bookmobile No. 3 was retired in 1983. (Cedar Rapids Public Library)

The Cedar Rapids Public Library’s Cellular Expertise Lab visits areas across the metropolis. It began carrying books and different library supplies this summer time, too. (Cedar Rapids Public Library)

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