The FPL bookmobile shows a matinee , circa 1957.
In the summer of ’57, the Fitchburg Public Library came up with a unique way to draw children to their bookmobile; they showed movies on it. While using a bookmobile to carry films was nothing new, Fitchburg was the first town to use the bookmobile as a screen. The 16mm films were actually projected from inside the bookmobile, onto a Polacoat lenscreen inserted into the rear window. This caused problems with the images being reversed, as if watching the film’s reflection in a mirror. Hence, a piece of cardboard was put over the screen during the opening credits, to avoid the confusion of backward letters popping up before the film. Otherwise, the reversal of the motion pictures wasn’t a problem, though the library avoided showing sports films, “As the youngsters would have readily spotted a player running, apparently, from home plate to third base.” The bookmobile regularly stopped at playgrounds around the city with three or four films in tow, ready to make on-the-spot decisions depending on what audience gathered that particular afternoon.
Children watch the Fitchburg Public Library’s screening of Make Way for Ducklings.
Hyatt, Hannah. “A Unique Use of the Bookmobile.” Wilson Library Bulletin, 570-571. Volume 32, No. 8, April 1958.