2020 marks the 75th year that Transylvania County’s beloved bookmobile has literally been carting knowledge and entertainment to all corners of our county. The bookmobile service began in 1945,
when the county’s first professional librarian, Mrs. Elizabeth Kapp, decided to lend library books out of the trunk of her own car, with the aim of making library resources more accessible to rural residents.
|The bookmobile stops at Cedar Mountain. Panels on the outside of the 1949 bookmobile were raised to display books; additional books were transported in the trunk.|
Mrs. Kapp started out by rotating small book collections for one month periods at country stores and one-room schools throughout Transylvania. For four years she used her car for this purpose; then in 1949, the county purchased and refitted a Chevrolet panel truck for use as a mobile library. Hall Smith Jr., of Brevard College, was its first driver. Mrs. Burt Cassing joined the effort as the volunteer bookmobile librarian.
|Bookmobile librarian, Dottie Vaniman stands at
the front door to the “Truck of Knowledge.”
Later, in 1960, a walk-in style bookmobile was acquired by the library. This sort of bookmobile was much more convenient for users, since they could get out of the cold and the wet weather to comfortably browse the books inside the truck. After nearly 20 years of heavy use, this vehicle was replaced in 1978 with a bright orange second-hand bookmobile (purchased from the Greenville, N.C., library), nicknamed “The Truck of Knowledge.”
In 1984, a brand-new white Chevy Pioneer II van, nicknamed “Moby Dick” by library staff, was purchased
and especially outfitted to the library’s specifications. This smaller van, built and designed by the Gersentslager Company, was better able to navigate narrow city streets. Service was now expanded to include rest-homes, childcare centers, and home-bound citizens. After 25 years in service, “Moby Dick” was retired and our current bookmobile took to the roads. This present-day iteration of the bookmobile is unmistakable on Transylvanian roads due to the beautiful photographs of Looking Glass (taken by Thomas M. Atkins) that grace its exterior. It will have been in service 12 years now this coming November 22.
Bookmobile librarians through the years have included Mrs. J.P. Cheek (1951-1969), Mrs. Joe Plemmons
(1969-1973), Mrs. J.P. Robinson (1973-1975), Mrs. Dot Rogers (1976-1977), Ms. Dottie Vaniman (1977-1993), Ms. Linda Raxter (1993-1995), Ms. Karen Plumley (1995-2008) and Mr. Gary Greene (2008-2009).
Since 2009 (aside from the months the coronavirus pandemic has forced the Bookmobile to idle by), current bookmobile librarian Miss Brenda Ivers stops at community centers, post offices, churches, day cares, schools and retirement centers throughout Transylvania County. At any given time she has up to 3,000 books in tow! For a complete bookmobile schedule, be sure to check the library’s website at library.transylvaniacounty.org or contact Miss Brenda at the library.
Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. This article was written by Anne-Monique Ransdell. For more information, comments, or suggestions, please contact NC Room staff at or 828-884-1820.