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 Saturday, February 24, 2018


Popular Tags

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

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo