The antique bookmobile gets superstar treatment in Everett

EVERETT — The world’s oldest bookmobile, Pegasus, was the star here this week at the national convention of bookmobile librarians.

The 1920s-era Ford, owned by the Everett Public Library, sat out front at the Everett Holiday Inn where conference participants posed for photos with the old vehicle.

Everett’s outreach librarian Theresa Gemmer hosted the National Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services conference, the first of the association’s annual conventions in the state. Gemmer said she was proud to show off the modified Model T, which was the first of its kind in Washington and the second in the West.

“Modern bookmobiles have computer stations and cozy story time areas. These big buses are in sharp contrast to the old bookwagon,” Gemmer said. “That’s what it was called in 1924 when innovative librarians first drove the muddy roads of Everett to take books to the outskirts of town.”

More than 150 librarians from across the country and Canada attended the conference held Wednesday through Friday, where they exchanged tips, found out how to better serve elderly readers and learned how to safely lift big boxes of books.

The association’s president-elect, Kathryn Totten of Colorado, said not all bookmobile librarians have fancy equipment and many really do cart around books in cardboard boxes.

“We’re like social workers, and we’ll do anything to take the library out to people who can’t come in,” Totten said. “We even go to out to record parents in prison reading children’s books and then we deliver the tapes and the books to their kids.”

Children and older readers are the focus of many bookmobile journeys, Gemmer said.

“I was a bookmobile child,” Gemmer said. “I remember standing out at the corner of Beverly Boulevard and Madison Street in south Everett waiting for the bookmobile. It’s important to get kids to love books early on.”

Not long ago, Gemmer heard from a senior bookmobile client who called in to check the book delivery schedule.

“Is this your day to bring me books?” the man said. “Because I’m all out and if you don’t come I’ll have to start reading the phone book.”

Bookmobile librarians enjoy their jobs, Totten said.

“We love what we do so much, kids often think we live in the bookmobiles,” she said.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427,

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