Book-shaped travelling libraries

Joplin, MO librarian April Roy, bookseller Pete Cowdin and members of the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild are building 22 mobile libraries -- book-shaped travelling bookcases that can be brought to poor, tornado-struck schools in the area. They're working with donated labor and cash donations for materials.
Roy and book store owner Pete Cowdin hit upon a “modest” proposal to bring new books to young readers in Joplin — individual 50-book “libraries” for a number of needy classrooms.

No question about the need. A tornado in May wiped out 54 percent of the school district’s square footage. Irving Elementary, home to 280 students, was destroyed. Emerson Elementary, an older building with 230 students, wasn’t demolished but also wasn’t practical to repair.

Volunteers write the first chapter for Joplin books (via Bookshelf)

(Image: JILL TOYOSHIBA/Kansas City Star)


  1. This is going to become a more prevalent way of setting up school libraries as the economic tornado continues to ravage US schools. I did a VISTA year at a hs/ms library and saw the ongoing fight for space. The building was initially a good compromise built to combine two separate facilities back in the 90s, and included a computer lab and a conference room. Over time, first the conference room and then the computer lab were taken over as classroom space. During my year there, a library storage closet was repurposed as another classroom despite not having any windows or ventilation. Now, I hear that this school year the library has been eliminated entirely and its 24k book collection has been tossed in order to provide more classroom space and budget wiggle room.

  2. School libraries are good quiet places to do research and get homework done.  I would despair the day the space is deemed “extravagant” and gets reclaimed for more “profitable” purposes.

    Having said that, I wonder when liberally distributed e-books loaded up with public domain works become viable alternatives to row upon row of physical books.

  3. The portable bookcases are an old design. Painting them to look like great big books is cute. Bringing them to communities lacking sufficient school libraries due to natural or bureaucratic disaster is wonderful.

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