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 countys 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 accesible 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 librarys
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 librarys 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
[email protected]
or 828-884-1820.

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