Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Library on Wheels

Library on Wheels: Mary Lemist Titcomb and America's First Bookmobile. 2018. Sharlee Glenn. Abrams. 56 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Mary Lemist Titcomb grew up wanting to do things. The problem was, people were always telling her that she couldn't. She couldn't do this, because she was too young. She couldn't do that, because she was a girl, or because her family didn't have enough money, or because it just wasn't practical. But Mary never gave up.

Premise/plot: Library On Wheels is about a pioneer librarian, Mary Lemist Titcomb. Librarianship was a new field when she came of age, and it wasn't an accepted field for women. (Not like teaching or nursing.) But Titcomb was diligent, determined, and ambitious. It wasn't only that librarianship was a brand new field but that public libraries were brand new as well. Titcomb's vision of what could be--what should be--would have a lasting impact.

The library she would have the biggest impact on perhaps was Washington County Free Library. (This wasn't her very first library to work.) The Washington County Free Library was the second county-wide library in the U.S. (I believe this is in 1901).
It had been established for all the residents of Washington County, but over half of them--some 25,000 people--lived far from town, on farms scattered across nearly 500 square miles. How to get the library's books to them?
Miss Titcomb was determined that everyone should have access to the library--not just adults, not just the rich or educated, not just those who lived in town. She was absolutely unwavering in her dedication this vision. First, she opened a children's room in the library--one of the first in the nation. She also made sure that all the outlying village schools had a good rotating supply of books and pictures from the library. Then she started a storytelling hour in remote areas to get the country children excited about books and reading.
Next, she set up book deposit stations throughout the county. These served as small branch libraries where people could check out books, then return the ones they had already read...
But her biggest accomplishment was her vision of having book wagons deliver books to the people.
 "The book goes to the man. We do not wait for the man to come to the book."
The book wagon made its maiden voyage in April 1905. Although Miss Titcomb rode along whenever she could, she still had her duties to fulfill back at the main library, so Mr. Joshua Thomas, the library janitor, was enlisted to be the driver. The wagon was pulled by a pair of dapper horses named Black Beauty and Dandy.
I loved, loved, loved that Mr. Thomas listed his profession as BOOK MISSIONARY in the 1910 census.

The book wagon evolved through the years--especially after a tragic accident with a train. This book tells a remarkable story of that evolution and the extraordinary librarian behind it.

My thoughts: I loved this one. I did. I absolutely loved it. I think it is for all ages. Yes, it's a nonfiction book for middle grade, but, it's so much more than that. I think it is for anyone and everyone who has ever loved a book or loved a library. I found it fascinating. There are so many pictures!!! They just weren't that many awesome nonfiction books when I was a kid.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
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  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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