Who remembers the bookmobile? Something I suspect many are longing for these days as we continue to shelter in place.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors authorized funding for a bookmobile on April 15, 1948, three years after the establishment of the Sonoma County Free Public Library itself. The bookmobile began service to rural communities on December 3, 1948 – its first stop at the Freestone Post Office.
Frances G. Murphy (1907-1991), one of the major forces behind the creation of the Sonoma County Free Public Library, and its first director was a strong advocate for the bookmobile. Miss Murphy, along with assistant director, Margaret E. Connor (1902-1993), personally handled the distribution of materials for many years.
It’s not clear to me when the bookmobile ceased operation, but I suspect it was around 2001. If I had access to materials held by the Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library, I could figure it out. Unfortunately, all branches of the library are closed at this time. It’s thanks to the Library’s online digital collection that I was able to find and share these images.
Today Sonoma County residents are fortunate to have access to the Free Bookmobile, a nonprofit that operates independently from the Library. As the name suggests, books are given away rather than checked out.
Meanwhile, at their November 5, 2018 meeting, the Sonoma County Library Commission were presented with a proposal for a mobile library van as well as a 24-hour self-serve mini branch library. Perhaps we’ll see these vans and/or mini branches as part of a post COVID 19 library system.