First bookmobile in Seattle takes to the road on May 4, 1931.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 4/23/2003
  • Essay 4160
See Additional Media

On May 4, 1931, Seattle's first bookmobile takes to the road delivering library services to schools and neighborhoods. The van is specially constructed with four revolving shelves to allow access to books from inside or outside depending on the weather.

The bookmobile was staffed by a librarian and a driver and could carry 600 books. It ran on five different routes each week. The last stop on Mondays was at the Boeing Airplane Co.

Budget cuts caused by the Great Depression forced the library to park the bookmobile in August 1932, and it was later sold. Bookmobile service was resumed in 1947.


"Motorized Branch Is Library Plan, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 3, 1931, p. C-7; "Bookmobile Put Up for Economy," undated newsclipping in folder "Bookmobile Papers," Seattle Public Library Archives; Seattle Public Library Annual Reports, 1947 to 2002, Seattle Public Library.

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You