On the road with Washington County Free Library “For those in charge of Hagerstown's library do not wait for the rural population to come in to town for books; they take the books to the people.” ...(From Oliver Martin, Chesapeake and Potomac Country, 1928)
Mary Titcomb, library pioneer and originator of the Bookmobile was born in Farmington, New Hampsire in 1857. Her professional training began as an apprentice in the Concord, Massachsetts Public Library. She later served as librarian for Rutland, Vermont Public Library and as secretary of the first Vermont Library Commission. She worked in Vermont as a library organizer for 12 years prior to arriving in Hagerstown, MD. in 1902.
The first bookmobile
The bookwagon 1905-1910. The first wagon, when finished with shelves on the outside and a place for storage of cases in the center resembled somewhat a cross between a grocer's delivery wagon and the tin peddlers cart of by gone New England days. Filled with an attractive collection of books and drawn by two horses, with Mr. Thomas the janitor both holding the reins and dispensing the books, it started on its travels in April 1905. ...(From On the trail of the book wagon, by Mary Titcomb.)
The book wagon visited the farms throughout western Washington County
Bookwagon stops at the house near Indian Springs
Roadhouse at Sideling Hill
The book wagon stops at a country home
Visiting the Oakes' farm on Middleburg Pike, Rt. 11, north of Hagerstown.
In harvest time near Beard's Church, on Beck Road near Smithsburg.
Bookwagon stop at the Old Road House, National Pike, Indian Springs This image was used in the National Geographic Magazine of October 1923 in a story about the automobile industry.
Selecting books near Lane's Run in western Washington County.
Children at the Bookmobile, 1912-1916
The bookwagon visits Grimm's Blacksmith Shop in Cearfoss
A friend in need: The 1916-1921 bookmobile is pulled out of the mud... somewhere between Trego and Sample's Manor, in southern Washington County.
Bookmobile visit is a family event near Broadfording
Black Rock School showing Black Rock in the distance. Early partnership with the schools began as the book wagon visited schools to provide books and paintings
For several months in 1931 the bookmobile visited the Roxbury Penal Farm until the prison established their own library
Selecting a book at the Green Spring Furnace book deposit
Louis P. Doub was in charge of the Deposit Station at the Mill at West Beaver Creek. According to the Library's 1905 Annual Report, he had a circulation of 301 books.
Children leaving the Sharpsburg deposit station with their books. The Library was an outgrowth of a deposit collection established in earlier years.
A deposit station was a collection of books held in a location in the county. This particular collection was stored in a private home, that of Miss Anna Shirk of the village of Beautiful View, near the Pennsylvania line. Miss Shirk was listed in the 1906 Bulletin as having a deposit station at her home.
Crossing Fairview Mountain
By the train tracks at Cohill Station
The Librarian reads to children near Brownsville
An attentive audience in Brownsville
Children at, and some on, the bookmobile
The 1912 bookmobile travelled to farms throughout the county
A group near Sample's Manor. Their first photograph.
The family gather at the bookmobile
His first view of the bookmobile
Librarian and children at the bookmobile, between 1916 and 1921
Reverse : 1916 Koehler Bookmobile &quot;on the road&quot;. Mountain Locke is on the C and O canal near Dargan.
The bookmobile visits Dargan in south Washington County
Books come by motor to gladden the hearts of county children
The family gathers to select their books
Librarian helping children select books
First motorized bookmobile - 1912
The boys besides the 1916 bookmobile
Miss Chrissinger shows books to farm children
One of the several things to which Hagerstown may well point with pride is the excellent county library which is located there. This excellence consists not so much in the building, equipment or personnel, although these are all that could be desired, as in the fine system of distribution maintained. You may be driving along the highway far from any town and suddenly come upon a group of people around an automobile truck, into the sides of which shelves are fitted, these shelves filled with books. You ask somebody what it is all about. &quot;Oh, that's the library wagon,&quot; carelessly replies your informant, just as off-hand as one would say: &quot;Oh, that's the milkman.&quot; For those in charge of Hagerstown's library do not wait for the rural population to come in to town for books; they take the books to the people. ...(From Oliver Martin, Chesapeake and Potomac Country, 1928)
Rapt attention Children gather around the librarian to hear a story.
Librarian and children, 1921- 1931
Children, librarian and dog A group gathers at the bookmobile in the 1930s.
Selecting books at a popular stop
Books about real life experiences are always popular
The first bookmobile
Pioneer Library Book Wagon
Librarian, Miss Chrissinger and the 1920’s bookmobile
The bookmobile parked outside the Washington County Free Library on Summit Avenue, Hagerstown. This was the original library building and was in use until the 1960s. Beulah K. Eyerly is seated next to the driver. She was an Assistant from 1912.
Women visiting the 1930”s bookmobile
The bookmobile 1957-1969. The Studebaker was sold for $320 and replaced by a GMC with automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, and a 206 HP, V-8 engine. The body was manufactured by Gerstenslager of Wooster, OH. The unit cost $12,895 and had a capacity for 2,800 books. The green and white GMC served Washington County until the late 1960's.
The bookmobile today. Purchased 2004
The first bookmobile in the United States was introduced in Washington County, Maryland in 1905. Mary Titcomb, the first librarian of Washington County Free Library, Maryland, considered seriously the need for the library to become a County Library. Her task was to get books in homes throughout the county, not just in Hagerstown, the county seat. The first step was to send boxes of books on the Library Wagon to the general store or the post office in small towns and villages throughout the county. By 1904 boxes with 30 volumes each were sent to 66 deposit stations, to extend the reach of the library and manage the practical distribution to the books.