Monday, July 21, 2008

Ex Libris Mobilis


I've recently run into Tom online. Tom is the lucky owner of a 1955 Chevy bookmobile named Baby. Can I even begin to say how jealous I am? Very cool. He is planning to hit the national car show circuit with it next year, with a compliment of pre-1955 books.

If you're curious if he has a copy of Here Comes the Bookmobile by Dirk Gringuis, published in 1952, yes he does. From what I understand, it is the first bookmobile book written for kids. Anyone know of one earlier?

According to Tom: "In the Spring of 1955, the Anderson, South Carolina Library ordered a Second-Series Chevy 3600 Chassis-Cab, and sent the unit off to Rock Hill, SC to have the book box built. The Rock Hill Body Company (RHBC) created the box, an evolutionary design with walk-in center core and exterior fold-out wing doors. In '58, the Anderson County Library System was created by referendum, and the Bookmobile continued in service till 1991."

I asked if he planned on using a bookplate for the collection and he did not know what a bookplate was. I directed him to Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie. If you are not familiar with Confessions, it is my favorite ex libris blog. I was also curious if anyone out there have ever seen a bookplate, specific to bookmobiles, or featuring bookmobiles. I've certainly never seen one. I asked Mr. Junkie, of the above plugged blog, and it turns out that he hasn't either. Perhaps they'd be more appropriately called ex libris mobilis.

Thinking about it, if a bookplate featured a bookmobile, it would be from a collection of books that stayed with the bookmobile, and did not generally circulate among a library system. It seems that many (most?) libraries stock bookmobiles with books from the general circulating collections, so a bookmobile specific bookplate seems unlikely. Perhaps a mobile branch librarian could help us out?

The four photos of Baby the Bookmobile are inside and out "As Found", and inside and out, "Cleaned up". She's in an amazing state of preservation. I can't wait to see her on the road!



Library History Buff said...

Nice article on the ex Anderson County Library Bookmobile. I haven't come across any bookmobile bookplates but I have a variety of other artifacts relating to bookmobiles. Check out my "Tribute to the Bookmobile" at
and "Bookmobiles on Stamps" at .

The Library History Buff

Lewis Jaffe said...

Behind the Wheel of a Bookmobile
February 25, 2010 - 3:20pm — birdie
From Book Patrol: It started innocently enough. Over dinner a friend mentioned that he saw a used bookmobile for sale on Craigslist and wished he could by it. That was all the impetus Tom Corwin needed.

He was soon off to suburban Chicago to buy the decommissioned bookmobile. He paid $7500 for it.

Corwin has already garnered the support of the National Book Foundation, the Association of American Publishers and the American Library Association for the project and has signed a deal with Whitewater Films in Los Angeles for the documentary which will be titled "Behind the Wheel of the Bookmobile." The film will also include information on the history of bookmobiles.

Authors that have already signed up in support include Michael Chabon, Dave Eggers, Junot Diaz, Tom Robbins and Scott Turow, with many of them to take a turn at the they are.

Follow the tour on the website and on Twitter.

Thought this might interest you.
Best Regards,
Lew Jaffe