Dayton, Ohio: The Bookmobile Goes To The City

DaytonBookwagon 1924

The Dayton-Montgomery County Library book truck, 1924. The shelves could easily be removed and strapped to the floor for travel. Courtesy of the Dayton Metro Library.

The bookmobile of the Dayton-Montgomery County Library was the first to serve a major metropolitan area, starting in October of 1923. The library spent $687 on a Ford One truck that was then outfitted with four bookshelves on each side. The truck carried 600 books and 100 magazines, everything held in place with canvas straps that “stretched across the front and buttoned on carriage curtain buttons.” The staff of the book wagon would ultimately consist of three. Two were pages trained in driving the truck, checking out books and “holding the discipline”; the third was a librarian. Her role was to explain the new service to prospective customers, provide reader’s advisory, and sometimes take patron’s reference questions back to the main library. Because of the limited selection, patrons were allowed only two books and one magazine per card. Nonetheless, the book wagon circulated over 4,000 books in its first six weeks, along with registering over 900 new library users.

Phillip, John.
“An Overview of the History of Bookmobile Service in Ohio: A Mirror of the National Scene.” Bookmobiles and Outreach Services Vo. 7 no.1 2004 pg. 29-36.

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