Bookmobile History in Ventura

Submitted by Fun at Foster on February 10, 2015 - 4:58pm
May Henning School, October 1934 Library Day

The idea of the Bookmobile did not originate in Ventura, California, but was an east-coast concept observed by a young Miss Elizabeth Topping—future County Librarian of Ventura—during her time spent in school. The official Bookmobile service in this county began during the summer of 1934, when at the behest of a “Grand Jury” it was suggested the library find a cost-effective method of servicing schools then withdrawing from the general county system.

Del Mar, October 1934 Library Day

Librarians, especially children’s librarians, began regular visits to school playgrounds during the summer months, catering to the children of those schools (and even adults in at least one location). At that time, a county sedan was used, though not yet exclusively for this purpose. Books were packed up and then unloaded in boxes or on tables set up on the playgrounds. An interesting thing is, during that period, one of the arguments for such a service was it encouraged children to go outside. Books and the Bookmobile service to playgrounds in general were seen as positive outdoor activities.

Over the following year or so (the document used for this research is undated), the service continued and expanded, though it was considered to be yet in an “experimental stage,” one report yields. Records show less than a year later over 20,000 books had circulated through the Bookmobile system. The locations visited include about eight schools and four ranches.

There is also specific mention of Spanish-speaking families in the undated report. The writer states “We have found out one very definite fact about the children whose parents are Spanish-speaking; namely, that they love fairy tales.” Bookmobile services would make strides to provide a variety of Spanish-language materials and current periodicals and elevate their efforts to bring books and information to all of Ventura’s sprawling communities.

 

Alan Martin, Your Friendly Reader

Mound School, October 1934 Library Day
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