Books–On the Road

Another round of historic photographs from the State Archives, this time showing Hawaii’s old bookmobiles, which brought the public library to people in rural areas who couldn’t make it to a main branch.

According to a history of the Friends of the Library written by Albertine Loomis, the first bookmobile in the state hit the road on Maui in 1926—a Ford roadster, complete with rumble seat. The bookmobile got upgraded in 1932 with a half-ton Ford delivery van with shelves and side panels that lifted up to make book-filled counters. By 1938, there was a fleet of bookmobiles delivering books throughout the state.

This photo was taken circa 1949.


This photo was taken circa 1955.


Today, Hawaii has only one full-service bookmobile in service—an 18-year-old van on Maui that brings books to Haiku, Makawao, Kahului and Wailuku, as well as to senior centers and the Maui Community Correctional Center. “There have been so many budget cuts, but we fought long and hard to keep our bookmobile running,” says Wailuku Public Library branch manager Susan Werner. “We don’t travel as far as we used to [The Maui Bookmobile used to drive all the way to Hana.], and we’re down to two days a weeks, but we’re still going.”

All images courtesy the Hawaii State Archives.