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Fort Worth Flashback: Bookmobile hit the road in 1948

Posted April 16, 2012

bookmobile

In 1948, Fort Worth’s new library director, Joseph S. Ibbotson, was instrumental in starting bookmobile service, which made 28 stops in the city limits.

For more than 100 years, U.S. bookmobiles have delivered information, technology and resources for life-long learning to people of all walks of life.

An early bookmobile in the United States was a mule-drawn wagon carrying wooden boxes of books in Chester County, S.C. The People’s Free Library started this service to the rural areas of Chester County around 1904.

Another early American bookmobile was developed by the librarian at the Washington County, Md., Free Library. The librarian was concerned that the library was not reaching all the people it could. In 1905, the Washington County Free Library began taking the books directly to homes in remote parts of the county.

The Gerstenslager Co. specialized in building mobile libraries and similar vehicles in the 1950s.

To meet the growing demand for “greener” bookmobiles that deliver outreach services to their patrons, some bookmobile manufacturers have introduced significant advances to reduce their carbon footprint, such as solar/battery solutions over traditional generators and all-electric and hybrid-electric chassis.

The Fort Worth Library has approximately 10,000 items pertaining to the history of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. These items include city and county government documents, newspapers, directories, cemetery association records, maps as well as popular and scholarly books written by local authors or about local subjects. To learn more, call 817-392-7740 or email the Genealogy, History and Archives Section.

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