Anyone who has enjoyed the services of a bookmobile can thank a dedicated, visionary librarian named Mary Lemist Titcomb.
With career opportunities limited for women in 19th-century America, Titcomb chose the emerging new field of librarianship. After an apprenticeship, Titcomb was hired by the Rutland Free Library in Vermont, where she quickly moved up to chief librarian. A significant career disappointment was Melvil Dewey’s rejection of her application to serve in the Woman’s Building library at the Chicago World’s Fair; Dewey acknowledged Titcomb’s admirable work in Vermont but said she had not done enough to make herself known beyond. That slap inspired Titcomb to work tirelessly to make a name for herself and a difference in her profession. Titcomb’s greatest contribution to library services came as head of the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown, Maryland. Determined to make the library accessible to the county’s rural residents, the most revolutionary of her innovations was a horse-drawn book wagon. A horseless carriage later succeeded it. Book wagons soon appeared in other parts of the country, and by 1922, the bookmobile was born. Titcomb’s complete dedication to her work and determination to succeed is inspiring, and the peek into her climb up the career ladder is revelatory beyond its look at the history of librarianship. Attractively designed to resemble a scrapbook, the engaging narrative is complemented with archival photographs, reproductions of correspondence, and other artifacts.
An ennobling portrait of a pioneer who took the library out of its walls and to the public. (source notes, bibliography) (Biography. 8-12)