On March 31, 1989, the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library discontinued the use of their bookmobile. In a February 2, 1989, Mansfield News Journal article, then library director, Ed Kieczyowski noted the renovated main library, upgraded branches, and new branches in Ontario and Madison as a few reasons for the decline in bookmobile circulation. Thirty-Two years later, MRCPL has a new bookmobile allowing the library to reach more residents throughout Richland County. The library has utilized bookmobiles since 1931, below is a list of the bookmobiles used in the last 90 years.
The Mansfield/Richland County Public Library received its first book truck in 1931. The cost of the book truck, a 1931 Reo, was $1,010.03 and began operation on October 12, 1931. In those first few months, according to the 1931 Annual Report, it cost $31.03 to house and operate the book truck and librarians circulated 14,295 books. In its first three months, the book truck traveled almost 1500 miles throughout Richland County.
In 1937 the library purchased a new book truck to replace the “old Reo.” The new truck was a 1937 Dodge Humpback. In 1937 the book truck circulated 36,486 books.
In 1948 the library purchased its first true bookmobile, a 1948 Ford truck. This was a big improvement. Instead of traveling to a school and unloading a collection and reloading it, the bookmobile could simply stop and begin circulating materials. From June 15 – December 16 of 1948, the bookmobile traveled 3,105 miles, made 216 scheduled stops, 17 trips to branches, and circulated 17,658 books. The cost of operation was $137.26. During the summer, the bookmobile averaged 8 to 9 miles per gallon and 5 to 6 miles per gallon in the winter when the heaters were in use.
On July 6, 1959, a Suburban Branchmobile was introduced. This was a $15,000 trailer converted to a library on wheels and parked at various locations throughout the city. The first sites chosen were West Park Shopping Center, Johnny Appleseed Shopping Center, and the Davis Grocery on North Bowman Street. The “branchmobile” had a circulation of 8,688 in its first six months.
On September 19, 1960, a new bookmobile was put into service. The new bookmobile could hold 3,500 books and was much roomier than the previous one. The staff was especially grateful for the efficient LPG heater. The bookmobile circulated 96,250 books in 1960, an increase of 3,865 over the previous year.
In 1979 a new bookmobile was purchased and dubbed the “Green Apple.” The Friends of the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library ran a contest to name the new bookmobile, which was entered by 650 students from 13 schools served by the bookmobile. The winning entry was from Linda Bumpus, a Mifflin School sixth-grader.
The library’s most recent bookmobile began service on March 22, 2021. Check out https://www.mrcpl.org/bookmobile/ for the most updated information.
Updated on May 28, 2021.