But on to more interesting libraries. When FDR was in office and created the Work Progress Administration (WPA) to put men to work, his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, had ideas of her own to help women utilize their skills: health services, school lunch programs, sewing projects, and libraries. And one of her innovations was the Pack Horse Library Project of Eastern Kentucky. For $28 a month, women traveled 50 to 80 miles a week on rocky terrain in all kinds of weather with saddlebags filled with books and magazines, making deliveries both to homes and to schoolhouses. The WPA paid for the salaries of the supervisors and book carriers; all books were donated. Members of the community had to not only donate books but also provide facilities to store the books and other supplies needed by the librarians on horseback. When donated books and magazines were beyond use, the librarians rescued what they could and made scrapbook collections of recipes, quilting patterns and other things of interest to women until eventually there were more than 200 different scrapbooks generated by patrons and librarians.
In countries where books rather than e-readers are valued, mobile libraries come in a variety of types. One is The Mongolian Children’s Mobile Library which carries books to nomadic herding communities and remote areas of the Gobi Desert. Another is the Elephant Mobile Library in Laos. It serves a two-fold effort: to increase public awareness about the plight of the elephants and to support literacy in rural communities. The project is a joint effort between Room-To-Read Laos, Action With Lao Children, and ElefantAsia in partnership with the local government. The elephant library has been an instant hit. "Stocked with 640 Lao-language children’s books (many featuring elephants) and supplementary educational materials, the library’s maiden voyage included four primary schools that serve more than 1,000 students in the northern province of Xaybouly."
Possibly so as not to be outdone, Kenya has a Camel Mobile Library Service which lends more than 7,000 books to nomads in the impoverished North East Province. "Many of the books are supplied by Book Aid International, the charity which gives more than half a million books a year to some of the world's poorest countries - and is supported this year by the Observer Christmas Appeal."
Meanwhile, Minneapolis has a floating library. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, artist Sarah Peters created a rowboat with a friend and can sometimes be found sometimes on Cedar Lake, distributing works – mostly books made by artists---not well-known titles.
|The ship's book store|
Buenos Aires has a privately-funded bookmobile, the Czech Republic has a tram library, Ethiopia has a Donkey Mobile Library, and the list goes on.
I hope the children who visit Tacoma's new library kiosks get to interact with an actual person. It's a great part of the experience.