Bookmobiles are mobile libraries that reach children who can’t get to a library. When I was young, the bookmobile was the highlight of the month. I was surprised to discover that they still exist, and still bring reading tools to adults and children.
Built into an RV, the bookmobile held shelves and shelves of books, a few small seats, and a desk for the librarian to stamp your card. (It was a long time ago, and library books has pockets in the back, with cards for due dates.)
In those days, it was rare for a child to have a library card. Cards were for responsible adults, and children, well, you just never knew. The librarian who drove the bookmobile made me a special card. I was still too young to go to school, but I knew how to read, so the librarian broke the rules (I’m sure it could have gone on her permanent record had she been caught) and made me a card. I was (shockingly) allowed to check out as many books as I could carry.
Because April is National Poetry Month, here is a memory of those bookmobile days.
The Smell of Books
The bookmobile rolled out of a cloud of dust.
The heavy metal door swung open
Dropping metal stairs and hand-holds
The librarian-driver cheering my skinny five-year-old legs
(Hands washed just for touching books.)
Cool book-dust smell, (air conditioned long before our house)
rolled over me. Unblemished happiness
Let me sit out whatever heat
was stoked up in our house that day.
The librarian signed that magic card
“As many books as she can carry.”
Those 15 books. Each one a map to safety,
adventure, freedom, love, discovery.
The bookmobile rolled off through the fields.
But I clutched books whose covers opened like a door
I could vanish through, into another life,
© Quinn McDonald, 2016