Articles

A Bookmobile Becomes a Book

by Alicia Eler on February 18, 2014

Screengrab from the BOOKMOBILE BOOK project Kickstarter video.

Screenshot from the Bookmobile Book project Kickstarter video

Remember the thrill of finding the library bookmobile as a kid? I do. I rode my pink Schwinn bike through a suburban wonderland, dodging cars and small children to meet the mobile. Nowadays I associate those types of trucks with tacos, but the memory of wandering into the bookmobile to grab a hardcover and stuff it in my backpack after the swipe of my plastic library card remains fresh. 

From 2001–05, another type of bookmobile roamed the streets: the MOBILIVRE-BOOKMOBILE, founded by Courtney Dailey, Leila Portavef, Ginger Brooks Takahashi, and Onya Hogan-Finlay, toured the United States and Canada, selling independently produced materials such as zines and artist books. According to the Kickstarter video, the vision was to “make media literacy cool and accessible to a broad audience,” which included people in museums, nursing homes, high schools, art galleries, a women’s penitentiary, and punk houses. The project burned rubber from suburban sprawl to rural roads and city streets. Now the collective is raising funds on Kickstarter to create a book that acts as a collection of experiences from the tour, as well as a history of the project. The book has been five years in the making.

Containing essays, tour stories, diaries, photographs, and comics from those who started the project and those who’ve supported it, the book will be printed in Canada and available in a limited edition of 1,000 copies. The finished product will also feature special-edition book jackets by artists Meredith Stern, Edie Fake, Chris Duncan, and Amy Lockhart, among others. And because the project is based in both Montreal and Philadelphia, some of the essays will consider the MOBILIVRE-BOOKMOBILE in its bilingual context. All of the information about the project itself is available in French and English.

Flowers abound inside the bookmobile!

Flowers once abounded inside the bookmobile. (via Kickstarter)

The actual bookmobile is no longer around, however, so don’t expect a reunion tour. In 2006, the collective sold it to the anarchist building collective Black Fly, which is based outside of Toronto.

“We had the trailer for five years, and at the end of that time we decided to take a year off,” Dailey told Hyperallergic. “Then we thought, actually, this is probably the last time. We kept doing the work, such as bookbinding workshops, but we decided that Bookmobile had run its course.”

Still, it’s hard to say whether or not the bookmobile book will mark the end of this project’s tour. Given its history, chances are the bookmobile will reappear in another iteration sometime, somewhere out in the world.

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