Monday, August 22, 2011

The mobile library...

Mobile Library in Wiltshire Village
I wanted to write about my visit to a mobile library in a small village in Wiltshire, England, last week but it isn't really relevant to a genealogy blog. I woke this morning at 4:00 am and was pondering this when I reflected on my visits to mobile libraries 50+ years ago. A mobile library post is relevant because it is part of my family story.

Last week we stayed with a cousin found through Genes Reunited several years ago. He lives in a pretty little village near Longleat Estate. Although it is not far from Warminster the peaceful village, whose residents appear to be mostly senior citizens, is a world away. The visit of the mobile library provides these residents with a vital link to the outside world through loans of books and videos. We tagged along with our cousin as he went to change his books, while there we met some of the villagers and the librarian. I noted that, as well as providing resources, the library visit fulfils a social role by providing a place where villagers can meet and chat informally.

Friendly Wiltshire Librarian
The last time I was in a mobile library van was in the early 70s when, as Children's Librarian for the Randwick Library service I was responsible for the provision and organisation of library resources for young people. I worked from the main library at Maroubra Junction.

My first connection with mobile libraries was in the late 1950s when, with my parents, I visited the Randwick Library Mobile Service that parked outside the Maroubra Junction Post Office each Saturday morning. Although they had little formal education my parents instilled in me a love of reading, I fondly remember our Saturday morning library visits to that crowded van where the librarian set up a card table on the footpath to record the loans and returns. I was introduced to the world of Noel Streatfeild and Ballet Shoes, Nancy Drew, Sue Barton, Trixie Belden and other characters from England and the US. One of my favourites was Dancing Star by Gladys Malvern, the story of the ballerina, Anna Pavlova.

I guess that my library habit and future career choice was strongly influenced by my early visits to the mobile library at Maroubra that, just like the Wiltshire service, provided me with a link to the outside world  through the wonderful world of books. 


Joan Miller (Luxegen) said...

I remember mobile libraries when I was a child. I enjoyed learning about your recent encounter with one.

Randy Seaver said...

Hi Jill,

Did you tour Longleat Estate? I can't imagine you not doing it... we really enjoyed the visit there in 1993. Do they still have the animals for viewing? I managed to touch a giraffe there.

The most impressive thing there, for me, was the large family tree of all of the Earls of whatever they are on the wall facing the staircase in the main house. Are they still there? Great memories!

We stayed in a former manor house in Ashton Keynes in Wiltshire that was owned by the Richmond family back in the 1600s. It's a B&B now. Unfortunately, my family was Richman, and I doubt that they were very rich!

Cheers -- Randy

Tanya Honey said...

We have a mobile library visit our little town every Sat morning. Our children love visiting this, and other, local libraries, but particularly seem to like the "book bus".

More importantly though it gives those who are elderly or have no transport, a way of visiting a library that they would not otherwise have. It is a wonderful service.

Geniaus said...

Randy, I gave Longleat a wide berth this trip but I did enjoy a visit there with the kids in 1994 - about the same time you were there.


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