As it turns out, yesterday was National Bookmobile Day. That will teach us not to check the ALA press releases more often. But in the same spirit as forgetting someone’s birthday and then offering them a month’s worth of celebration, it seems as though honoring an institution devoted exclusively to literacy outreach ought to spill over for at least a few more days.
There are some nice celebrations up online already. Jacket Copy has links to a bookmobile Flickr set and the Los Angeles Public Library’s retired “Little Toot,” and The Library History Buff has a terrific tribute page and a set of worldwide bookmobile postage stamps.
It operates from Garissa in Kenya’s isolated Northeastern Province near the unstable border with Somalia. Initially launched with three camels on Oct. 14, 1996, the library now uses 12 camels traveling to four settlements per day, four days per week. The camel library is now operating also in Wajir, Kenya, even further to the northeast. The camels bring books to a semi-nomadic people who live with drought, famine and chronic poverty. The books are spread out on grass mats beneath an acacia tree, and the library patrons, often barefoot, sometimes joined by goats or donkeys, gather with great excitement to choose their books until the next visit.
And since we’re also fans of four-legged creatures in general, here’s a shout out to Alfa and Beto, the Biblioburros of Magdalena, Colombia, and their boss Luis Soriano (via Book Patrol).
(Photo is of the Warrington Perambulating library in Chershire, England, circa 1859.)