In 1957, a gallon of gas cost only 24 cents and “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss was first published. It was also the first year Mid-Missourians were able to climb onto a bookmobile and borrow a library book.
That year, the Missouri State Library funded a trial fleet of bookmobiles with one based out of the Columbia Public Library. After two successful years of working together on the bookmobile trial, the library districts of Columbia, Boone, Callaway and Howard Counties came together to form the Daniel Boone Regional Library with the bookmobile as a regular service to our rural areas.
A second vehicle was added in 1968, and over the years we’ve upgraded the vehicles and added new collections like music CDs and DVDs to our rolling libraries. In recent years, we average about 10,000 visits annually to our two bookmobiles, resulting in about 75,000 items being checked out.
In the next few years, we hope to visit more neighborhoods and licensed child care centers and to add technological maker kits to our lending collection.
Our 60 years of bookmobile service have included lots of memorable moments for our staff.
Come Celebrate 60 Years of Bookmobile Service
Enjoy snacks, enter a drawing for Barnes & Noble gift cards and get a free book bag when you visit the bookmobile at its regular stops November 1-14 or drop by at the Columbia Public Library on November 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Invite a friend! The more the merrier.
For more fun, post your bookmobile selfie to Instagram with #DBRLbookmobile.
One night, when long-time driver Eric Schmeck was heading back from the stop in Sturgeon, he saw flashing headlights in his rearview mirror. Fearing there was something wrong with the bookmobile, he pulled over. It turned out to be a regular bookmobile patron who had forgotten it was bookmobile day. He saw the bookmobile heading down the road, and decided to flag it down so he could pick up his holds!
Tim Dollens, who drove the bookmobile for nearly 30 years, remembers several individuals and families fondly, like Mrs. Zumwalt of Auxvasse who was the first patron to meet the bookmobile each week to borrow books for herself and her friends. Melissa, a Holts Summit mother, used to visit weekly with her children. After her son went to college, she treated Tim to a pizza and wrote a letter thanking him for encouraging her children to read. Mrs. Peveler, a retired teacher living in Armstrong, became so well-known to Tim, he knew what books to bring for her without even asking.
Long-time bookmobile staffer and Outreach Department manager Karen Neely fondly remembers a stop at Baldridge School. (Before the 1970s gas shortage, our bookmobile made more numerous and frequent, but shorter stops.) The people in the Baldridge area would come on board with large cardboard boxes or paper bags full of library books to return. The bookmobile turned into a delightful country store where people socialized, updating each other on family news, farm successes and challenges and eggs for sale. All the while, the cardboard boxes and paper bags were refilled for another month of reading.
Many of you have your own remembrances of visiting the bookmobile, and we would love to hear your stories. If you wish, please share your story on our Facebook page.