For most Americans today, it’s hard to imagine a world without a library, but there was a time when libraries were scarce. Before the Works Progress Administration sent packhorse librarians to reach rural Appalachia in the 1930s, there was the bookmobile. The first of these was created by a Maryland librarian in 1905. Part library history and part biography, Sharlee Glenn’s Library on Wheels: Mary Lemist Titcomb and America’s First Bookmobile is an interesting look at a forgotten piece of America’s past.
Glenn’s book begins by looking closely at the life of Mary Lemist Titcomb, who was born in a time when career paths for women were limited. After a failed nursing career (she would get queasy), Titcomb heard of a new field of work called librarianship. Glenn traces Titcomb’s path to becoming the head of the Washington County Free Library in Maryland and highlights the literacy programs she founded.
In language easily understood by capable readers, Library on Wheels is both entertaining and informative. With original photographs and color prints from the era, the book feels like a scrapbook, which makes it fun to read. Don’t skip the final pages, which include an interesting author’s addendum, endnotes, select bibliography and an index.