Although no longer used by the Salt Lake County Library System, bookmobiles were an important part of the library’s history, serving areas that did not have a library branch. Suggested in 1947 by Ruth Vine Tyler, who cited their value in rural areas, the first bookmobile was put in to service in 1949. This bookmobile cost $7,000 and carried 2,500 volumes. The second bookmobile was acquired in 1954, and carried 3,000 volumes. A third bookmobile was purchased in 1957, and in 1959 a fourth bookmobile was added to the fleet.
Although most bookmobile stops went smoothly, an official Salt Lake County Library System history recalled a particularly frightening event that occurred in 1953 during a bookmobile visit to Lark (now a ghost town west of Herriman):
According to a 1960 annual report, the “Salt Lake County Library System ran four bookmobiles in 1960. These vehicles stopped at approximately 115 locations each week and circulated almost 300,000 magazines and books.” In 1973, two mini-bookmobiles were added to the fleet.
With the continued building of more library branches throughout Salt Lake County, by 1989 only one bookmobile was in operation. This bookmobile made five stops a day, four days a week, and its route extended south to the Jordan narrows, west to Copperton, and east to Little Cottonwood Canyon. A bookmobile operated until at least 1993/1994.
Do you remember visiting any of these bookmobiles? Please leave a comment!