Thursday, September 15, 2011

Those Places Thursday - the Bookmobile

From article printed in the South St. Paul Reporter, circa 1965

Gals In Curlers Common Sight At South St. Paul's Bookmobile
By Doris Kelleher

     It's no surprise to the staff to see women with hair in curlers come up the steps of the South St. Paul bookmobile.
     "They come in jeans, tennis, and even swimsuits" laughed Mrs. Omer Brossoit of 111 W. Richmond, gracious and helpful bookmobile librarian.
     Presumably, the colorful books on the shelves transport the bookmobile's patrons from their routine of everyday life to new lands of travel and enchantment.  Young and old, male and female, all take advantage of the unique opportunity to gain knowledge and education through the wonderful world of books.
     A regular visitor at Lorraine Park stop is Thorvald Thuesen.  Eighty years old Labor Day, Mr. Thuesen still chooses four books each week for himself to read and three for his wife.
     The bookmobile celebrated its second birthday this past August, and its great success is evidenced by the increasing use made of it by South St. Paul citizens.
     "One afternoon in August, 630 books were checked out in four hours," said Mrs. Brossoit.  "I hardly had time to get up from my seat behind the desk and stretch!"
     The bookmobile has five regular stations where it can be found from one to five p.m. each week.  Monday it is stationed at the Northview pool, Tuesday at the Jefferson school and Friday at Concordia Lutheran church.
     Inside the transient library, Mrs. Brossoit attempts to cater to her customers by rotating a portion of the books each day and carrying the type of reading most prefer.
      "We carry approximately 3,000 books constantly," she said, "and during several weeks this summer, 2,000 of these were checked out each week.  There are regular visitors at each stop, and we become acquainted with each one and enjoy helping them fond just the right books."
     The pleasant bookmobile is its own self-contained little world.  Its shelves are colorful and the overhead windows provide ample light for even the oldest or youngest eyes.  The vehicle provides its own air-conditioning, its own electric heater and battery-charger--the latter being a 75-foot cable that attaches to a meter provided at each station.
     Guiding the heavy unit from station to station are two drivers who rotate each week: Ralph Connelly and Charles Foster.  "When the new addition to the main library is completed, the bookmobile will be under cover for the first time in its life," said Mr. Foster, the Wednesday driver.      
     "There was no place with a door big enough to get it in before.  With the new garage provided at the new library.... (unable to read - a section is missing) ..... never been touched.  South St. Paul youngsters apparently have great respect for books."
     Mrs. Miller also gave credit for the whole idea of the bookmobile to former South St. Paul librarian Mrs. Dorothy Jorstad.  "It was really Mrs. Jorstad's dream to get a bookmobile.  She wanted to make books available to the entire city--even the outskirts--and it just couldn't be done from the central library", said Mrs. Miller.
     "It's easy to run over to a bookmobile and get a book.  You can run in just as you are--in shorts, jeans, work clothes or what have you.  The atmosphere is casual.  And where else can you find so much pleasure for so little remuneration?"
          "All you need to enter the world of the bookmobile is a little white plastic card."

1 comment:

  1. Loved your post. At about this same time period and through to the early 1970s the bookmobile in Holden, Massachusetts used to stop right in front of my house. I loved waiting for it on the front steps, and one summer the librarian on board introduced me to Laura Ingalls Wilder and she made sure she had the next book available every week that year! It looked just like the one in your photo, too, but was brown.