Three Amish boys wait for “Ohio’s Most Popular Bookmobile.” Courtesy of the Geauga County Public Library.
When Geauga County, OH got its bookmobile in 1986, the Amish children figured out that if enough of them gathered on a corner, the bookmobile would halt. These informal gathering places eventually became scheduled stops, and the bookmobile there now serves 52 Amish communities. The Amish are among the biggest users of bookmobiles, especially in the states of Pennsylvania and Ohio. In Wayne County, OH, Amish readers make up 80% of the bookmobile’s users, which circulates more titles than any of the branch libraries. That same percentage goes for the bookmobile in Holmes County, which serves over 60 Amish schools, making it the busiest in the state. Holmes County also has the distinction of being the only library to have an Amish board member, Jerry Schlabach.
As for what the Amish read, Westerns are popular, with their emphasis on horses, as well as romances (“They [Amish women] are not as reserved as you think they are,” asserts Hugh Manchester, bookmobile driver of Snow Shoe, PA). The Hardy Boys are popular with boys, and girls enjoy The American Girl Series and The Babysitters Club. Frequently, the children can be seen carting away the books in wheelbarrows, wagons, or carts.
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