Exploring the History of Bookmobile Services in Fairfax County, Virginia

This article explores the history of bookmobile services in Fairfax County, Virginia from their beginnings more than a century ago to their current state today.

Exploring the History of Bookmobile Services in Fairfax County, Virginia

From mule-drawn carts to the largest public library system in the Commonwealth, Fairfax County libraries have responded to the research and reading needs of their citizens for more than a century. In this article, we explore the history of bookmobile services in Fairfax County, Virginia and how they have evolved over time. In 1904, the women's club movement was held accountable for the influx of mobile bookstores in thirty of the fifty states. Women's clubs wanted state governments to step in and create commissions for these traveling libraries. In England, mobile bookstores, or traveling libraries, as they were called in that country, were normally used in rural and peripheral areas. In Fairfax County, Virginia, countywide mobile book service began in 1940, on a truck provided by the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

One of the first mobile libraries in the United States was a mule-drawn cart carrying wooden boxes full of books. Thanks to the creation of the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs (TFWC), it was possible to enact new legislation to develop public libraries in Texas, after the TFWC actively promoted mobile bookstores. This new legislation introduced improvements and expansions in libraries, including the establishment of a traveling library system in Texas.

Serving the citizens of Frederick County for more than 45 years, Bookmobile is the traveling branch of Frederick County Public Libraries.

It goes where people are and brings library services to communities and centers for the elderly that don't have the services of branch libraries. Today, Fairfax County Public Library offers a variety of services through its bookmobile program. Look for books, e-books, audiobooks, and magazines in the library catalog.

There are original maps of the county and an extensive photographic archive. For those who are researching local births, check out Dr. 1903-1912's accounting books. Since birth certificates were not required at the time, these books may be the only birth record for some. There are oral histories of local elderly people that offer a fascinating insight into everyday life and records of centuries-old stores that show the cost of goods and services.

An extensive collection of books and manuscripts on the history of Virginia and Fairfax County is archived, including many rare and out-of-print volumes. Old newspapers are on microfilm and microfiches, and community directories, government publications, the legislative database, and even Endeavour are available for on-site consultation. The bookmobile program has come a long way since its inception more than a century ago. It has become an invaluable resource for those living in rural areas who may not have access to traditional library services. Fairfax County Public Library continues to provide its citizens with access to books and other materials through its bookmobile program.

Jeanette Krogmann
Jeanette Krogmann

Hardcore pop culture geek. Proud coffee expert. Subtly charming coffee maven. Total web geek. General social media aficionado. Subtly charming coffee guru.

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