MOVILLE, Iowa | Framed photos of bookmobiles past and present hang on a wall at the Woodbury County Library.
Library director Donna Chapman, who has been driving the bookmobile since 1995, hopes to have a new vehicle to deliver books to residents living in rural areas of the county within the next year or two. The first Woodbury County bookmobile was purchased in 1951; there have been four bookmobiles since then.
The bookmobile has planned stops in Danbury, Correctionville, Sloan, Hornick, Pierson, Lawton, Bronson, Anthon and, of course, Moville during the 2017-2018 school year.
"If people want us to drop off books, they can call us," Chapman said. "If it's on not too bad of a road, we will bring books to them or to the closest library."
The Woodbury County Library recently received $100,000 in Missouri River Historical Development grant money, which Chapman said she will use to replace the current Thomas Built bookmobile purchased 20 years ago. She hopes to have the new vehicle decorated with a cornfield and some rolling hills.
"I'm writing more grants to finish it off. They're above $200,000," she said of bookmobiles, which come equipped with built-in bookshelves, seating and wheelchair lifts. "We order it the way we want it."
Chapman estimates that the current bookmobile, which is white with aqua blue and fuchsia detailing on the outside, holds 5,000 hard and paperback books.
"You'll find something for everybody," she said with a chuckle. "We have juvenile books for anybody 3 years old and up."
In spite of the advent of ebooks, Chapman said real books are as popular as ever. She said "The Magic Tree House," a series of mystery books that chronicle Jack and Annie's adventures around the globe and through time, are in high demand among children who board the bookmobile in school parking lots. Chapman has a scanner ready to check out their selections.
"Kids still like to turn the pages. They still like the feel of the book," she said. "A lot of them like the new ones, so we're trying to keep our selection updated."
When they encounter the Woodbury County bookmobile for the first time, library assistant Lisa Rippke, who helps stock the bookmobile, said children are awestruck by the number of books the vehicle holds.
"It's pretty amazing to see them look at the bookmobile for the first time," she said. "They can't believe how many books are on the bookmobile and that they can pick any one of them that they want. It's indeed a library on wheels."
Chapman said some of the children remark that the bookmobile reminds them of another vehicle that they've used for vacations.
"One of their comments is always, 'You could turn this into a camper and you could read all night,'" she said.
Chapman said a generator keeps the diesel-powered vehicle's lights on and air-conditioning running. She doesn't recall ever having to replace the current bookmobile's tires, although she said the county gravel roads do take their toll on the vehicle.
"That's probably why we've had so many generator problems. It does get really dusty in there," said Chapman, who was once stranded along the side of the road while delivering books near Pierson, Iowa. She called for a tow truck. "Most of the time, if it's the generator I can continue running the motor, so that's good."