Bookmobile service has a long history in Wake County, beginning in 1942, when
Supplemental Aid to Libraries, via the State Library of North Carolina, fun
ded a book van under the supervision of both the Olivia Raney and Richard B. Harrison libr
aries. The side of the automobile opened like a roll-top desk to reveal shelves of books
r readers of all ages. A second book van was purchased in 1947, and through the 19
50s and 1960s, the bookmobiles traveled across Wake County to open for business at ga
s stations, public schools, private residences, drug stores, N.C. State College, and the men’s and women’s prisons. Pa
trons often greeted staff of these mobile libraries with home-baked goodies and home-grown vegetables. Service was halted in 1972, when federal funding to operate the vehicles ended, and the buses themselves had aged into a state of disrepair.
In 1996, a Library Services and Technology Act grant (LSTA) from the State Library of North Carolina was used to purchase a bus to reinstate mobile library service to Wake County, with a focus on serving young children who did not have easy access to a public library building. The return of bookmobile service was such a heralded success that two years later, a second bus was added to meet demand. Sadly, one of the buses burned in April 2005, but reduction of service was minimized when the Bookmobile staff enlisted a delivery van and created boxes of books to be delivered to the smaller child care centers. Two
years later, a new truck was added to the fleet, allowing the Library to reinst
e full service to 140 child care centers.
In September 2009, when the older bus was retired, a new vision for the service was created: The entire operation was shifted to East Regional Library so that services could focus on at-risk preschool children in the eastern part of Wake County.
Watch for the bookmobile as it travels the highways and byways of eastern Wake County, delivering books and services to young children and their teachers. Every morning the staff
loads up boxes of books, puppets, flannel boards and programming supplies to bring the love of books and promote the love of reading to preschool children and their teachers.