|The old Marin County Bookmobile - not as huge as I remembered it|
My first "real" job--other than babysitting, housecleaning for my mom, and ironing @ 5 cents per shirt for one of my babysitting families--was Assistant Bookmobile Driver at a county library system in northern California. I helped out on the school bookmobile that went to schools that didn't have their own libraries, and I sometimes got to go on the residential bookmobile that I had used when I was a child.
It was a marvelous job for a young college dropout (I finished up many years later), and a wonderful introduction to library work. In those pre-computer days, people relied on the librarian to help them find books and to assist them in using the card catalog. We didn't have a full catalog on the bookmobiles, so a good memory was essential at all times. I quickly learned to memorize which books were waiting in the piles to be re-shelved, because someone might be looking for one of them.
My scariest moment at that job was when the regular driver, Edna, was out sick and I had to drive the huge, lumbering truck all on my own for the first time. Edna and I had practiced together for just such an event and I was assured by the head librarian that I would do just fine. Everything was going well until I got stopped in traffic on a steep hill. Anyone who has ever driven a standard transmission will remember that awful feeling of scooting your foot from the brake to the gas pedal while letting the clutch out, especially while on a hill: For beginning drivers there is always a sickening moment when the vehicle rolls a bit backwards until either the clutch catches or the car stalls. With such a huge and weighty truck, the roll backwards happened faster and lasted longer, and I was terrified that I would roll back into someone. After several increasingly panicky tries, I finally had to back down the hill and into a driveway, wait for all the traffic to pass and for my heart to stop pounding, and take a running start at the hill. It was a sweaty moment, let me tell you!
I mention all this because although you might have missed it, April 11th was National Bookmobile Day, which is part of the annual April observance of National Library Week. During all my years of working in libraries, I somehow managed to miss celebrating National Library Week, part of my general obliviousness to dates and times, no doubt. This year was no different and I missed it again, but I still like thinking about my old bookmobile days.
Have you ever had a bookmobile in your life? Do you have any bookmobile memories you would like to share in the comments?
|This photo was sent to me by a California friend, showing|
the smaller bookmobile version that is used these days in Marin County. I'll bet it's an automatic!