The World on Wheels: Bookmobile the Center of Rural Life


While one little girl in Boise, Idaho, mistook the pink van parked down her street for an ice cream truck in the 1970s, teenager Barb Stone of Benton City, Wash., was already an old pro of the bookmobile circuit. A July 1960 photo shows 4-year-old Stone holding a small stack of books, standing next to the librarian and driver of the Mid-Columbia Regional Library’s Bookmobile.

All grown up now and working as an information technology specialist at the WSU Libraries, Stone still cherishes memories of the bookmobile’s comings and goings at her family’s home in the rural southern Washington town. Bookmobile staff dropped off travel narratives and art prints for her mother, Lenore, as well as science fiction and the first teen novel for Stone.

“I learned about girls with curlers in their hair who had parties,” said Stone, a sixth-grader at the time. “I read that book three times because I was learning how to be an older girl. Later, I had a big interest in science. The bookmobile brought books on beginning astronomy, biology, animals…

“It was a little community that came to you,” she said. “The universe changes once you find it.”

National Bookmobile Day is April 15, during National Library Week. NBD celebrates America’s bookmobiles and the dedicated staff who provide library services to their communities, according to the American Library Association. For more than 100 years, bookmobiles have delivered information, technology and resources for lifelong learning to Americans of all walks of life. For more about the day, visit

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