Wisconsin Library Heritage Center

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation promoting understanding and appreciation of the history of libraries and librarianship in Wisconsin.

Bookmobiles in Wisconsin Library History

Posted by Larry Nix
Larry Nix
Larry Nix has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 in WLA 125
Today is National Bookmobile Day and the focus of this blog post is bookmobiles in Wisconsin library history. Although there were some earlier uses of motor vehicles to deliver library service, bookmobile service as we know it today was first demonstrated in Wisconsin in 1940 using federal funding from the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Three bookmobiles were purchased by the Wisconsin Free Library Commission using WPA funds. One of the three bookmobiles was used for a demonstration in Shawano County. In March, 1942, following a successful demonstration, the first autonomous bookmobile service in the state was established in Shawano County. Bookmobile service in Shawano County continues today through the Shawno City-County Library. One of the three bookmobiles served Grant, Iowa, Crawford, and Rock counties. Operational funding for this demonstration which only served children was provided through contributions from 26 American Legion posts. The image above shows children using this bookmobile.  The first state funding for public library service in Wisconsin funded a bookmobile demonstration in Door and Kewaunee Counties in 1950-52. Although the demonstration was a success in terms of use by the residents of those counties, a referendum to continue the service failed in Kewaunee County. Although a similar referendum passed in Door County, both referendums were required to pass in order to continue the service.  In 1956 federal funding was made available to extend public library service to rural areas through the Library Services Act. The Wisconsin Free Library Commission developed a state plan for using this funding. It included the development of regional library systems, and bookmobiles were one component of that plan.  By 1993 there were 21 bookmobiles operating in Wisconsin.  Since then the number of bookmobiles has been reduced to eight. More about Wisconsin bookmobile history can be found HERE.


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest Monday, July 23, 2018


Popular Tags

Wisconsin Free Library Commission Elroy Public Library Library e Hall of Fame 2015 Hall of Fame 2014 Hall of Fame 2012 Carl Spitzweg UW-Milwaukee Libraries Events Increase A. Lapham Wisconsin Historical Society James Huff Stout Edward Asahel Birge Manitowoc Public Library bookworm Cam Ruby Roeder campaign Uncategorized Amer Hall of Fame 2015 Hall of Fame 2015 Wisconsin Library Bulletin Campaign Larry T. Nix Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Soughton Public Library COLAND Wisconsin Library Association traveling libraries Centennial 24 presentations 21 Public library systems cam Campaing for Wisconsin Libraries Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Katharine MacDonald Jones 28 McMillan Memorial Library ca Wisconsin Library Heritage Center 20 Library Buildings Events & Meetings 22 Lutie Stearns Gertrude Thurow John Miller Chancellor Hall of Fame 2016 hall of Lutie Eugenia Stearns Nolan I. Neds 27 Wisconsin Literary Travel Guide Campaign Wisconsin Free Library Commission Brown Deer Public Library Wisconsin State Normal School-Milwaukee Charles Bunge Peter G. Hamon I Love Libraries buil Rusk County Community Library Richard E. Krug Academic Libraries Gilbert H. Doane Marjorie Sornson Malmberg Postcards James Duane Doty Anniversaries Ice Storm Public libraries WWI Library War Service Events & Meetings Hall of Fame 2009 Pinback buttons Library People Appleton Public Library Eager Free Public Library state historical society Library Systems Hall of Fame 2015 Middleton Public Library Dorothea M. Krause Capitol Fire 1904 Brown County Library Postcards Hall Hall of Fame 2008 archives campaign Bookmobiles Black River Falls Public Library Digital Collections Hartford Public Library Postcards Ruth Ann Montgomery UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies 23 Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians Suring Area Public Library Hall of Fame 2012 Ripon Public Library Library Trustees Wisconsin Library Trustees and Friends WLA 125 Parcel post Campaign Zona Gale DeForest Area Public Library trav Klaus Linderfelt School libraries Madison Public Library Orrilla Blackshear Sandra Friedman Dolnick Hall of Fame 2011 Louise S. Robbins caly film Delia Ovitz Special libraries Library Artifacts Anniversaries WHCLIS books-by-mail Hall of Fame 2013 Library people Matthew S. Dudgeon Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries WLA 125 Clinton Public Library School of Library and Information Studies Evansville Wisconsin Library History Hall of Fame 2010 Council on Library and Network Development Marketing-Publicity American Library Association Library War Service Pewaukee Public Library Irene W. Newman Beaver Dam Public Library Portage Public Library Lowell W. Wilson Inform Wisconsin Milwaukee Public Library campa Dianne McAfee Hopkins Carnegie libraries Association of Library Trustees Advocates and Friends Gerald A. Somers Sarah Janice Kee bed and breakfast Jerome P. Daniels Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library membership libraries Hall of Fame 2012 Brown Deer Public Library People Meter mail slogans Governor's Conference on Library and Information Services Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries National Bookmobile Day Superior Carnegie Libraries Milwaukee Public Library Academic Librarians Wilbur Lyle Eberhart State Law Library Wayne A. Wiegand 10 Bernard Schwab Exhibits CCBC library memorabilia Library Buidlings John J. Jax Hall of Fame 2015 Milwaukee Art Museum library education background Oshkosh Public Library UW-Madison school of library and information studies Tower Hill Wisconsin Cornelia Marving Pierce S. Janice Kee caly film Wisconsin State Law Library World War I 11 WAAL Woman's Congress Eratus Swift Wilcox anniversaries Library people Postcards WLA 125 Clarence Brown Lester Publications caly film T. B. Scott Free Public Library Buttons J. D. Witter library exhibit Frank Avery Hutchins William J. Wilson Historical Register Cooperative Children's Book Center American Library Association Public libraries National Library Week Library celebrations Wisconsin Rapids 14 Beloit Public Library library legislation Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries WLA 125 campaign Hall fo Fame 2012 White House Conference on Library and Information Services Hall of Fame 2017 Black River Falls Jane K. Billings

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo