Unusual Outreach Programs

Posted by Anne Nelson

BiblioburroSince Frank is not only a Reference Librarian but also our Outreach Librarian, I thought it would be fun to share a little information about some library outreach programs in other parts of the world. The Bibliomulas and Biblioburros (“book-mules” and “book-burros”) are established programs in Venezuela and Colombia, and Ethiopia has a similar Donkey Mobile Library. The animals deliver books to readers–especially young readers–in remote communities. In South America, the mules and burros carry books on their backs and are valued for their ability to climb up even the most steep and narrow roads to reach places Frank’s car could never visit. In Ethiopia, the donkeys haul a small cart that also holds stools for readers and lunch for the donkey! While I was searching for stories about bibliomulas, I also learned about a floating library in Norway that has been bringing books to readers since the 1950s. I even found a short film from the 1940s about a library on a riverboat in England. This is an old idea that’s still really viable: in 2005 the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation underwrote a program in Bangladesh to convert existing boats into mobile libraries complete with computers and internet access. Like Crandall Library’s local outreach services, these programs all bring the library to the people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach it.  Sadly, we have no immediate plans to acquire a burro.

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One response to “Unusual Outreach Programs

  1. I remember that when I was very young, the “Bookmobile” used to come to our neighborhood near School #21 in Yonkers, New York. No donkeys, burros, or mules were needed, although they certainly are a great idea for out of the way places! 🙂

    The Bookmobile was my first experience with library books. Of course, the adult books were inside the Bookmobile and you had to board it like a bus to see and choose books.

    But, for kiddies like myself, there was a flap outside the bookmobile which came down near the sidewalk. On that flap were all kinds of picture books… skinny, easy-to-read books. Those were the books I looked for. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could read the “thick” adult books inside!

    I remember the Bookmobile with the same pleasure that I remember the bright green “Frozen Custard Ice Cream Truck” and the “Good Humor Man” who also came to our neighborhood. They all had “TREATS”, treats for the tummy and treats for the mind!

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