Happy National Bookmobile Day! On April 11th, we celebrate this wonderful service that has been reducing barriers to accessing library services in neighbourhoods around Ottawa for 65 years.
To celebrate and honor the work that the dedicated bookmobile team of employees does every day, we put together this list of fun facts about the service, with the numbers telling the story.
- 1905: Year that the first bookmobile, Mary Titcomb’s “library wagon,” started serving Washington County, Maryland
- 1926: Year that the first bookmobile in Canada was introduced: the Newfoundland Travelling Library (followed four years later by the Fraser Valley Bookmobile)
- 1953: Year that OPL’s first bookmobile hit the road, serving Manor Park and Our Lady of Fatima Schools. We qualify for our pension this year – hold the applause, please.
- 1: Number of books children were allowed to borrow from our bookmobile in 1953 (adults were allowed to borrow 2)
- 16: Number of stops our bookmobile made in 1959.
- 1983: Year our bookmobile went online, using ULISYS, OPL’s first automated system
- 30 tonnes: Combined weight of our three vehicles
- 34,000 km: Distance we travel in an average year. If we drove straight, we could go to Buenos Aires and back.
- 86, 000 items: Average number of items checked out by our dedicated team of employees in an average year
- 25 - Number of locations that our two (large) bookmobiles visit each week: that’s over 2,000 hours a year of the green “open” sign in our front window!
- 16: Number of wheels on our bookmobiles (total across three vehicles). A tantalizing note from OPL’s 1973 annual report reads: “Unit 1 lost a wheel on the Queensway but made it home safely on three.” We would love to know the whole story there.
- 2: Number of employees on the bookmobile at each location
- 2 km: Average maximum distance our customers walk, bike or drive to get to a bookmobile stop (most walk). In 1985, a survey reported that most customers walk for 5 minutes or less to get to the bookmobile – a fact that is mostly still true!
- 217: Number of questions from the public that we answered on all our vehicles, in the last month
- 75: Number of children who have made their own LEGO bookmobile or at one of our programs with Ottawa’s own LEGO guy, Ian Dudley
- 27: Number of events the mini bookmobile participated in last year (invite us to another one here: Special events form)
With credit to Terra Dankowski from American Libraries for the idea for this post ("By the numbers: Bookmobiles").