Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Mobiles Are Disappearing

This weekend NPR featured a story about a Vermont town struggling to keep their Bookmobiles operating. It has become very expensive to operate the mobile book rooms, so many have disappeared from the roads of this country.1

 A long time ago, I drove a Bookmobile one summer. It was the summer of 1977, and I was in need of a job. I was hired to drive one of the Sage Brush Federation Bookmobiles in eastern Montana. There really was not  that wide of variety available on them; most of what was there was for young readers, and adult romances. These were the books that were in demand. Young people and women on the ranches and farms in the area could not get  into the main library when they wanted to pick up something to read. So the Book mobile an opportunity that made their reading a little easier. If the van did not show up in their neighborhood, they would not have things to read..

Now things have changed. First, there are not as many people living int the rural areas of Montana, not other  rural areas. The small farms are disappearing, and not as many people are needed to produce the food and fiber this county needs. So there are not as many people there.

There has also been a paradigm shift in books. Paper book are being replaced with digital editions. Now, while may rural still do not have good internet connections, the new digital books are really not that large of files, so someone even with dial up connection can download books fairly quickly. With libraries now loaning digital books to people, the internet cost is the price of the books.

So with the demand for books decreasing, the need for the big van that are Bookmobiles is passing too. Progress happens, and I will miss seeing them.

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