Book Women: Roving Horseback Libraries
Libraries and librarians have always been about getting books to people who want to better themselves through knowledge. In the 1930s President Roosevelt, as part of his Works Progress Administration, ordered librarians to deliver books by horseback to out-of-the-way places such as remote mountain communities in Kentucky. The initiative was intended to raise the literacy rate and to provide jobs for unemployed librarians. At its height, the program employed nearly 1,000.
Librarians' roles have changed a lot since then, but we're still all about making books and other materials freely and readily accessible to our patron communities. Here are some things we do today at Calvin that our earlier counterparts may not have imagined:
- design and present web-based content (tutorials, web pages, subject guides) so people can learn on their own and at a distance
- create indexes and other finding aids to help in searching our unique special collections
- request materials for our patrons from as far away as outside of the United States and get them within 5 days (turnaround time averages 3 - 5 days)
Librarians on horseback? No need for that, particularly on a college campus, but who knows? We might just try it one of these days when spring is in the air.