Plainfield’s Bootstrap Bookmobile

BootStrapperExteriror In the early 70s until the early 80s, the public library of Plainfield, IN, used a lunch truck to deliver books to rural patrons. Finding that many children in the area couldn’t get to the library but without funds to purchase a bookmobile, then director Mary McMillian hit on the idea of using the same truck the school district used to deliver prepared meals. The same taxes paid for the truck after all, and it merely sat idle all summer anyway. Local postman Clark Kellum helped planned the routes, since he was knowledgeable about where children tended to gather. Ultimately the “Bootstrap” as the quasi-bookmobile was named, would deliver 5,000 books every summer. It ran an average of two days a week for nine weeks, on routes that totaled 500 miles. In addition to loaning books, the Bootstrap Bookmobile also held story times and threw an-end-of-summer party (which children could attend on the condition they returned the books they had been allowed to keep for nine weeks). One article described a typical stop as being attended by “barefoot children, friendly dogs, and mothers with their hair in curlers and infants in their arms.” The service was stopped in the mid-80s, the reason given that air-conditioning kept the kids inside. Boot StrapperInterior The Bootstrap Bookmobile was  a simple machine that the children loved.

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