By Jane Livingston
If you were to think books are only available within the four walls of your local library you would be mistaken.
Over the years libraries including our very own Pettes, have been delivering books to its members in many innovative ways. From pack horses to the internet, your librarians have been getting the books to you.
As documented in the history of Pettes Library, up to 1942 “travelling libraries were doing well, serving young farmers who could spare little time for the then, long trek to Knowlton.” In the late sixties and early seventies, Pettes had a branch library in Bolton Centre as well as a pilot branch in Foster. By 1978 both services were discontinued likely, in large part, due to the automobile. With a car in almost every driveway, folks could make their own way to Pettes and choose from the entire collection.
Branching out from Knowlton (pun intended), there were streetcar railway libraries that roamed cities such as Edmonton and Ottawa. In 1926, CP Rail donated decommissioned first class passenger cars to the BC government. The cars were transformed into ‘libraries’ and sent out to remote areas of the province. More information is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the Great Depression in the United States, the New Deal addressed the isolation and desolation of the ‘dirt poor people’, specifically in Kentucky. A female staff of pony express style librarians delivered books on horseback or mule to isolated families and small communities. (Ref: Down Cut Shin Creek, The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky, by Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer, a librairian at the Putman County Library in Cookeville, Tennessee). Today’s new-fangled form of outreach is through cyberspace. Pettes members can log in and access e-books and have them delivered to their tablets or home devices. You can get lost in the magic of books and never leave your comfy chair.
Over the years community libraries, like Pettes, have been finding imaginative ways of getting books to their readers. It is hard to conceive of delivery methods beyond today’s technology but there will be future advances. What will they be? Perhaps we need look no further than Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek fame to see what the future holds.