In the wake of the 70s energy crisis, bookmobiles were suddenly looked at as gargantuan gas guzzlers from another era. Library administrators felt the need to have their vehicles increase efficiency by offering more services, such as providing health care resources and/or general services for the illiterate. One of the more unique combinations were the “artmobiles” to be found in Florida and Wisconsin.

The artmobile of Miami-Dade Public Library System carried art exhibitions along
with basic library services. This service ran into the early 90s, with the bookmobiles painted by such artists as the New Realist Lowell Nesbitt.


A dazzle of Zebras blend in perfectly with Miami-Dade’s Artmobile in Loxahatchee, FL.  Courtesy of the Vasari Project, Miami-Dade Public Library System. Photo taken by Rafael Salazar, 1987.

The Winding Rivers System of Lacross, WI, boasted an artmobile that carried traveling performers and artists, including weavers, potters, actors, poets musicians and even belly dancers. The artists often led classes for younger patrons.

String Quartet Aug 1978

A string quartet gives a free concert in Wisconsin, 1978. Courtesy of the Winding Rivers Library System.

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