Posts Tagged ‘national library week’

National Library Week: 6 Mobile Libraries Bring Books to the World

Americans like me who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s (in other words–old!) are likely to fondly remember bookmobiles. In some small or rural communities, they were the only way to borrow books. Today, there are less than 1,000 bookmobiles in use in the U.S. That could be because more than 306 million people in the U.S. lived within a public library service area in 2014. And anyone with a computer or smartphone can get free access to e-books and audiobooks, as well as the printed versions, from their local library.

But in other parts of the world, it’s not so easy. In many countries, there are very few public libraries, and in some, even schools don’t have books or libraries. And with only 35 percent of the world’s population connected to the internet, there are vast numbers of people–especially children–who have no way to gain access to books. In honor of National Library Week, this post explores six visionary mobile libraries that go to great lengths to promote the love of reading and literacy throughout their little part of the globe.

Argentina: Arma de Instruccion Masiva

In Argentina, the artist Raul Lemesoff converted a green 1979 Ford Falcon purchased from the Argentine armed forces into a tank-like vehicle with enough shelf space for 900 books, offering everything from novels to poetry. Lemesoff was inspired to build his Arma de Instruccion Masiva (Weapon of Mass Instruction) as a way of counteracting fear with education. On World Book Day in March 2015, he drove around the urban centers and rural communities of Argentina, offering free books to people on the street, as long as they promised to read them.

Colombia: Biblioburro

In 1990, a primary school teacher in Colombia named Luis Soriano Bohorquez was inspired to save rural children in Colombia’s Magdalena province from illiteracy. Every Saturday at dawn, Luis sets out to 15 select villages with his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto (their names combined translate to “alphabet”). Luis rides Alfa up to four hours each way, with Beto following behind carrying a sitting blanket and more books. Children get homework help, learn to read or listen to stories and geography lessons that he prepares. Soriano started his library with just 70 books from his own collection. Thanks to donations, he now has some 4,800 books piled up in his little house in the small town of La Gloria. In 2011, PBS made a documentary film about his work, Biblioburro: The Donkey Library.

Biblioburro, Traveling Library in Colombia
By Acción Visual/Diana Arias [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Italy: Bibliomotocarro

In 2003, retired teacher Antonio La Cava realized that children in the local villages of the Basilicata region in southern Italy didn’t have easy access to books. He bought a used Piaggio Ape motorbike van and modified it, creating the Bibliomotocarro (the Library Motor Car). The small, bright blue vehicle resembles a tiny house–including a Spanish-tiled roof, a chimney, and large glass windows that display the over 1,200 books inside. There are also built-in speakers to play the organ music he uses to announce his arrival. Each month, he travels over 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) to eight different villages, where children gather in the squares to wait for him.

Mongolia: Children’s Mobile Library

Dashdondog Jamba is a children’s book writer and publisher and has translated more than fifty children’s books by foreign writers into Mongolian. His Children’s Mobile Library transports books to children in the remote regions of the Gobi desert, and throughout every province of Mongolia. Since the early 1990’s, he has faced the challenges of mountainous terrain and severe weather conditions to travel over 50,000 miles by camel, on horseback, on carts pulled by horses or oxen, and more recently, with a van. Assisted by his wife and son, they often remain in one place for several days to allow as many children as possible to read the books.

Norway: Bokbaten Epos

In a coastal country that includes many islands and islets, with remote hamlets located along the fjords, the sea is often the easiest way to reach some communities. In 1959, a group of librarians in Hordaland pioneered the concept of a floating library. At first, a refurbished tobacco cutter was used, and it was an immediate success. In 1963, a larger 85-foot boat was specially built to serve as the seafaring mobile library. The new vessel also offers cultural programs such as films, plays, puppet shows and visits with authors. Bokbaten Epos (the Library Boat) carries about 6,000 books to the residents of 150 small communities in three counties along the West coast of Norway who don’t have their own libraries.

Bokbåten Epos

Bokbåten Epos by Andrva (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Pakistan: Bright Star Mobile Library

When Saeed Malik returned to his home country of Pakistan in 2004 after working for the United Nations World Food Program for 35 years, he learned that most government and private elementary schools in the rural areas of the Islamabad Capital Territory did not have library services or books of their own. He founded the Bright Star Mobile Library in 2011 to introduce young Pakistanis to the world of reading and books. Four refurbished U.N. jeeps make weekly visits to about 20 elementary schools in the outskirts of the capital city, carrying over 1,000 books and serving nearly 6,000 young students.


Libraries Transform. Whether a library is on land, sea, or even donkey, those who bring books and resources to their local community are truly agents of transformation.

How are you celebrating National Library Week? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.

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National Library Week: 4 Impressive World Records!

Libraries transform readers to writers. Libraries nurture curiosity. Libraries give everyone a chance. Getting a library card is like a rite of passage. Without libraries, we wouldn’t learn about the work of so many diverse authors. We wouldn’t be as informed. We wouldn’t get access to everything print and beyond that libraries have to offer.

April 9th-15th is National Library Week. This year’s theme is “Libraries Transform” and to celebrate, we’ve compiled 4 outstanding library, author, and book-related records that were set according to Guinness World Records.


JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong by Wing1990hk CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong by Wing1990hk CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Highest Library from Ground Level

On November 7, 2003, the library located on the 60th floor of the JW Marriott Hotel in Shanghai, China took this title with a height of 757 feet 6 inches.


Kewanee Public Library by Kepper66 CC-BY-3.0 via<br /> Wikimedia Commons

Kewanee Public Library by Kepper66 CC-BY-3.0 via
Wikimedia Commons

World’s Largest Library Book Fine Paid

On April 19, 1955, Emily Canellos-Simms checked out the poetry book Days and Deeds from Kewanee Public Library in Illinois. Forty-seven years later, Emily found the book at her mother’s house and returned it to the library with a check for $345.14 in overdue fines.

James Patterson by Susan Solie-Patterson CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

James Patterson by Susan Solie-Patterson CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

First Author to Sell More Than 1 Million E-Books

On July 6, 2010, Hachette Book Group reported author James Patterson was the first author to have sold over 1 million e-books. He sold 1.14 million. Self-published author John Locke surpassed this record in June 2011, selling over 2 million e-books.

Comics artist Ken Bald at the 2013 Wizard World New York Experience Comic Con, at Pier 36 in Manhattan, June 29, 2013 CC-BY-3.0 © Luigi Novi/Wikimedia Commons

Comics artist Ken Bald at the 2013 Wizard World New York Experience Comic Con, at Pier 36 in Manhattan, June 29, 2013, CC-BY-3.0 © Luigi Novi/Wikimedia Commons

Oldest Artist to Illustrate a Comic Book Cover

At age 95, Ken Bald is the oldest artist to illustrate a comic book cover as verified on November 4, 2015. He illustrated Contest of Champions (2015) #2 (Bald Classic Variant). Ken is also the oldest comic book artist.

How are you celebrating National Library Week? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.

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Celebrate National Bookmobile Day


Source: American Library Association

National Bookmobile Day is coordinated by the ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS), the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS), and the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) as part of National Library Week.

One of my favorite memories of growing up in the 1960s was of visiting the bookmobile when it made its stop about a quarter mile down the road from my home every two weeks. My siblings and I would ride our bikes—all equipped with a wire book basket—and were each allowed to check out 5 books. Sadly, it would only take me a couple days to breeze through those books and then I would have to wait until the bookmobile made its next visit. What I wouldn’t have given for a Nook or a Kindle back in the day!


Orange County Public Library Bookmobile, circa 1965
By Orange County Archives [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The idea of bookmobiles was developed by Librarian Mary L. Titcomb of the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown, Maryland, in April 1905. Titcomb was concerned that her library was not meeting the needs of patrons in the rural communities surrounding Hagerstown. She packed a black wagon pulled by two horses with books and sent it out driven by the library’s janitor.

Within a few years mobile libraries came into use, and by the mid-20th century bookmobiles were a part of American life. Over 2,000 bookmobiles traveled the rural roads and inner-city streets to provide library services to areas that had no actual library buildings. Bookmobiles also provided resources to groups and individuals—senior citizens, disabled people, child-care centers—who were unable to visit a library building.


By Dwight Burdette (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By the 1980s the number of bookmobiles began to decline due to financial cut-backs and the cost of running and maintaining the bookmobiles. Although there are fewer than 1,000 bookmobiles in use in the U.S. today, they still provide great value to the patrons that visit them and have even expanded their services to include items like computers, internet workstations, DVDs, and video games as well as other programs and classes.

We’d like to hear your favorite stories about bookmobiles and how they impacted your life. Please Share below.

To learn more about the history of bookmobiles, visit our eLibrary Research Topic Page: Bookmobiles.

The Case for Virtual Libraries


An iPad with text sits between ordinary books in a bookshelf. The text is a page from Georg Büchner’s “Dantons Tod”. The app in charge is “iBooks”.
By Maximilian Schönherr (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Technology enhances library engagement according to the Pew Research Center’s latest typology on Americans’ public library usage. Technologically-savvy Americans, even with a world of information at their fingertips, still use library services. This suggests that technology is not replacing the need for school and public libraries. But I propose taking this finding one step further: technology has the potential to increase engagement with libraries.

Consider this case: A man becomes disengaged with libraries after he graduates from college. Years later he discovers that his local library offers online services. The hassle of physically going to the library is no longer an issue or an excuse. He taps into his library’s resources with a few simple clicks. Suddenly he has access to a plethora of free content. Plus, the library’s Web site informs him of the latest library news, events, and offerings.

This man is me.

Having access to a slew of magazines and journals has had a huge impact on my life. Content on the Internet is becoming increasingly restricted to subscribers only, and I cannot afford to pay for every publication that interests me. That is no longer a worry or a source of frustration thanks to my library card. I now have access to more writer magazines and poetry journals than I have time to read. My library’s Web site has not only saved me time and money; it has also furthered my education and expanded my access to the world.

I understand that one story is merely anecdotal. I do not represent library users everywhere. But I share my story to suggest that technology is not a death sentence for libraries as is often claimed. To the contrary, the Internet is a powerful tool that libraries are using to connect with students and the public. The face of our school and public libraries may be changing, but their online services are keeping them as relevant as ever. I am proof that the Internet can increase library engagement.

With the 2014 National Library Week upon us, let’s honor the impact of libraries past, present, and future.

Tell us below how your library is harnessing the power of the Internet to increase engagement.

ProQuest Honors National Library Week

“The only thing you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.”
–Albert Einstein

A high school student reads to a young girl as part of a special program for children at a public library in Paris, Texas. (Credit: AP)

A high school student reads to a young girl as part of a special program for children at a public library in Paris, Texas. (Credit: AP)

Libraries are places where ideas are born, imaginations are piqued and communities are strengthened. For some, the library is a refuge, a quiet place to get lost in a book and escape the cares of the world. For others, it is a social gathering place, a haven where new immigrants gather to learn English, parents bond during children’s story-time and students meet to work on class projects. Libraries also serve as lifelines for job-seekers by offering free access to computers as well as knowledgeable staff and resources that can pave the way to a new career. Amid all of the debate over the future of libraries in the digital age, most still agree that libraries play a useful—even vital—role in our communities and our lives.


In honor of National Library Week 2014 (April 13th-19th), sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA), ProQuest is offering libraries free access to a rich assortment of databases available through library web sites, including such patron favorites as ebrary’s Public Library Complete™, ProQuest Obituaries, CultureGrams and eLibrary. Libraries can choose to extend complimentary access for up to 30 days.

Additionally, ProQuest is proud to support the School Library Month student video contest, which invites K12 students to submit videos showing examples of how their school library connects to this year’s School Library Month theme, “Lives Change @ your library.” Winners will receive a boxed set of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books, and their school library program will receive a one-year subscription to CultureGrams, an online database from ProQuest that brings the world to the library and classroom.

As we commemorate National Library Week 2014, let us know how your life has been changed by the library. We’d love to hear your experiences!