On November 22 1949, Orlando Public Library, in partnership with Sorosis Club of Orlando, unveiled Orange County’s first mobile library: A $6,000 Studebaker bus uniquely equipped to deliver library services to the outlying areas of Orange County. At the time, there were only three library locations within the county, and they were mostly centralized to the Downtown Orlando area. With the Bookmobile, the library brought materials lending to even the most remote of areas: “Farm workers, citrus growers, villagers, cross-road store customers, [and] lonely farmettes will have a new interest,” touted a press release for the newly commissioned vehicle.
In addition to a unique lending collection, the library bookmobile offered a diverse range of events for residents including language classes, storytimes, picnics, square dances and bridge parties.
The bookmobile program eventually expanded service into Osceola County in 1969, providing lending access to prisons and retirement communities within Kissimmee and Intercession City. By then, the prevalence of library branches within Orange County had made the Bookmobile less of a necessity. Eventually, the bookmobile program gave way to the library’s Home Delivery service, which continues to operate today.
Thankfully, much of the history of the Bookmobile service has been preserved on Orlando Memory. Here, you can browse historic images of the two library bookmobiles and the devoted library staff who made the service possible.