The mobile library has become a staple in many library systems, bringing books to those who cannot access the libraries themselves. However, in many places due to bad road conditions or lack of funding, the traditional system of rigging a bus or truck as a library is not possible. Thus, library carts, donkey libraries and motorcycle libraries have appeared as viable options to bring books to the communities.
Through the Bilingual Librarian blog we can catch glimpses of these alternative mobile libraries. First, lets talk about the the donkey libraries. It seems that the most commonly mentioned example is the “biblioburro” of Colombia, run by schoolteacher Luis Soriano who loads up his donkey, climbs on top, holds onto a foldable picnic table with the Biblioburro sign and rides more than 4 hours each way to deliver books to children who don't have access to them. He reads them stories, helps them with homework and gives them the possibility to enjoy books they don't have at home. As he explains, through books, children can see other places, other people and can learn about their rights, their duties and the commitment they have with society, and in having this knowledge they can say no to violence and war.
And this video has had a great impact on Luis’ life: after the video became public, donations started pouring in and now, the library which was under construction has been finished: there are shelves, some tables and the 250 children of La Gloria can now visit the library during the week. During the weekends, Luis continues to ride his donkeys, bringing the library to those farther away. Following is a thank you video where Mr. Soriano thanks everyone who donated for helping his dream come true:
Donkey libraries seem to be catching on. In another region of Colombia, the Arhuaco Indians are benefiting from the same system in the Santa Marta mountain range area. The biblioburro blog tells their story through pictures. In neighboring Venezuela, they are using mules instead of donkeys, and plan to add movie projectors and Internet access to them, to bridge not only the literacy but also the digital gap. In Ethiopia, as the following video shows, Ethiopian-American citizen Yohannes Gebregiorgis returned to Ethiopia to run a donkey mobile library. The greatest challenge is finding books in any of the languages commonly spoken in Ethiopia. His solution? He wrote one of his childhood stories in 3 different languages, and he's working towards getting more storybooks published.
Joining donkeys and mules in the educational process are camels. The Camel libraries in Kenya take books to schools in the region so children can learn to love reading, and also deliver books to the nomadic communities. Where there are people who move with the seasons, libraries have to move with them. In impoverished countries, books are a luxury few can afford. These mobile camel libraries take story books as well as non-fiction or school books which subscribers can take home for two weeks, after which the camel library returns and they can renew their books or take out new ones. Following is a video story of a child seeing the camel library arrive, taking out books and then teaching his father numbers from one of the books he takes home:
This next video is a short documentary piece by Ruud Elmendorp on the Camel libraries:
In Peru, the motorized mobile library was scaled down, and that's how the motorcycle library was born. Part of the Futura Project, the Obraje Community library also brings books to the children in other communities, as part of the cultural and literary activities they also host: