Kenosha’s “RIG”, seen here when just-purchased in 1987, ran until 2004 and represented the end of an era. Photo, Kenosha News.
In the 60s and 70s, it wasn’t uncommon for a bookmobile to be a 40-foot-long, 18-wheeler tractor-trailer. Increased regulations in the 80s meant that such vehicles could only be driven by a licensed trucker, putting the era of these massive libraries-on-wheels to an end. Kenosha Pubic Library’s “RIG” – an acronym for Reading-is-Great, the nickname a result from a city-wide contest- was the last of the tractor-trailers. KPL purchased the AMC truck and Great Dane trailer for $92,000 in 1987 (the AMC was later replaced by an International Harvester). The 40-foot trailer was the last bookmobile in the country to be pulled by a semi. It could carry up to 10,000 items and was powered by a propane generator. KPL replaced the 18-wheeler with a bus in 2004, which carried three laptops and an awning.
Kenosha’s new bookmobile, 2004. Photo, Kenosha News.