• A photo of a hospital patient selecting books from the Athens Regional Library, Georgia. Courtesy of the Athens Regional Library via Digital Library of Georgia.

    More info
    Select an item:
    Photograph of a patient selecting books from the Athens Regional Library, Athens, Georgia, 1944-1959
    • Date
    • 1944/1959
    • Description
    • Photograph of hospital patient selecting books provided by the Athens Regional Library in Athens, Georgia.
    • Rights
    • Http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/
    • Partner
    • Digital Library of Georgia
    • Contributing Institution
    • Athens-Clarke County Library (Athens, Ga.)

  • The Hennepin County Library's "Workers Who Read" program. Starting in 1905, the library gave service to telephone operators, firemen, clerks, streetcar employees and many other groups who had difficulty getting to the central or branch libraries. There were 45 stations located in factories and business houses as part of the program. Courtesy of the Hennepin County Library via Minnesota Digital Library.

    More info
    Select an item:
    Workers who read, Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • Description
    • A typewritten note attached to the photo reads: "Workers Who Read--Since 1905 the Library has given service to telephone operators, firemen, clerks, streetcar employees and many other groups who find it difficult to get to the Central or branch libra... more
      A typewritten note attached to the photo reads: "Workers Who Read--Since 1905 the Library has given service to telephone operators, firemen, clerks, streetcar employees and many other groups who find it difficult to get to the Central or branch libraries. There are now 45 stations located in factories and business houses. Please return to Minneapolis Public Library, Publicity Office, Hennepin at 10th." Minneapolis Public Library was founded in 1885 and merged with Hennepin County Library in 2008. less
    • Rights
    • This work is made available by the Hennepin County Library under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial ShareAlike 4.0 license (CC BY-NC).
    • Partner
    • Minnesota Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Hennepin County Library, James K. Hosmer Special Collections Library

  • Factory group using the Hennepin County Library collection. Courtesy of the Hennepin County Library via Minnesota Digital Library.

    More info
    Select an item:
    Factory group using library collection at noon, Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • Description
    • Beginning in 1905, the Minneapolis Public Library supplied 45 book stations located in factories and businesses to provide service to workers who might find it difficult to get to the Central or branch libraries. Minneapolis Public Library was founde... more
      Beginning in 1905, the Minneapolis Public Library supplied 45 book stations located in factories and businesses to provide service to workers who might find it difficult to get to the Central or branch libraries. Minneapolis Public Library was founded in 1885 and merged with Hennepin County Library in 2008. less
    • Rights
    • This work is made available by the Hennepin County Library under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial ShareAlike 4.0 license (CC BY-NC).
    • Partner
    • Minnesota Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Hennepin County Library, James K. Hosmer Special Collections Library

  • Children checking out books at the Rockingham County Library bookmobile, 1955. Courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources via North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.

    More info
    Select an item:
    Rockingham County Library bookmobile and children
    • Date
    • 1955-02-03
    • Description
    • Painted on side of bookmobile: 'Rockingham County Library Mobile Unit'.
    • Rights
    • Public Domain see http://digital.ncdcr.gov/u?/p249901coll22,63753.
    • Partner
    • North Carolina Digital Heritage Center
    • Contributing Institution
    • North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

As public libraries grew in communities across the United States, they focused on creating better and better access for patrons to library resources. This included new, innovative thinking about how access could be made easier for patrons and how libraries could better serve communities that were isolated from them physically.

Libraries, thinking more broadly about how to bring books directly to the people, developed new programs aimed at previously untapped audiences who might find it too difficult to visit library branches. These included on-site libraries for workers and their families in unique places like railroad cars and factories, as well as library services in hospitals and prisons. In programs funded by communities, as well as the Works Progress Administration, libraries were bringing books to the community by foot, boat, horseback, and the increasingly popular bookmobile. In times of national struggle, like the Great Depression and both World War I and World War II, libraries mobilized to fulfill their missions of public service.