Sunday, September 16, 2012

New York's First County Bookmobile

Images of children using bookmobiles are among the most endearing portrayals of public library service. An especially appealing image (shown above) is included in a publication titled The Library of the Open Road by Ralph A. Felton and Marjorie Beal published by the New York State College of Agriculture at Cornell University in November, 1929. It shows children using the Monroe County (NY) Traveling Library. The publication is Cornell Extension Bulletin number 188 and it makes the case for establishing county libraries in New York. The image of the Monroe County Traveling Library also appears in an article titled "The County Library" in the January, 1926 issue of The American City Magazine. I also found a 1923 newspaper article about the Monroe County Traveling Library which includes the same image. The newspaper article which appeared in The Monroe County Mail stipulates that the Monroe County service is the first of its kind in New York. The headline reads: "Only County in the State Which Provides Free Books for Residents of the Smaller Villages and Farm Districts and Delivers Them From a Real Library on Wheels Right at Their Homes - As Many as 200 Books Loaned Daily". The article makes very positive comments about Miss Ruth Drake, the librarian of the Traveling Library, who was interviewed for the article. She is probably the woman in the doorway of the Traveling Library image. I also have a postcard (see below) showing a later bookmobile used by the Monroe County Library in New York. 

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