That’s right. Book mules. Now, I know some of you might think of me as a book mule, and while blogs by their very nature are narcissistic, this post isn’t about me.
It’s just a heads-up about a really cool program in Venezuela that uses mules to deliver library books and Internet access to remote villages. The story was covered by James Ingham of the BBC (what great gigs some reporters have). Apparently, there’s a program in Thailand that uses elephants to access rural readers and those in need of satellite dishes, but I cannot find any information about it. (Can you?! Post a link or comment that will help us.)
Imagine: eco-sensitive modern bookmobiles. How great is that?! (I know some of you are moaning about the Internet thing, but I’m not going to go down that path. Why shouldn’t people who live in remote locations have access to the Internet, too? Not the job of the bookmobile? Well, who else is responsible for helping people access information?)
Apparently, this isn’t a new thing. Maria Gonzalez at the University of Texas wrote to a listserv I belong to– SHARP, the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing– to tell us that the prolific bibliophile Alberto Manguel has a photo of mule delivery service in Colombia in The Library at Night on page 231. And, as all good librarians do, she also led us to a detailed article about early twentieth-century Appalachian book women and their horses. Find it at: Boyd, Donald C. Boyd, ‘The Book Women of Kentucky: The WPA Pack Horse Library Project, 1936-1943,’ Libraries & the Cultural Record, (Volume 42, Number 2, Spring 2007).
Ok, I know I post a lot about libraries and books, but hey, it’s my blog. If you don’t find this interesting or important, be patient, I’ll try to come up with something for you soon.
2 thoughts on “Bibliomulas, etc.”
A few months back I actually heard of the Camel Book Drive in Kenya: http://camelbookdrive.wordpress.com/
You raise a lot of interesting points about access to information. While it is laudable that these organizations exist, it would be interesting to see how many of the texts are in the native tongue rather than the English language. And are the texts from Western perspectives or do they include world and local views?
I don’t mean to rain on the parade here, because I do think it’s a wonderful idea in theory. However, with so many languages disappearing from the earth each year, I wonder about the big picture cost of access to information.
Yes, Alias Grace, you’re right. I would be interested in knowing more about the texts that are made availabe. I think the Bibliomulas program is out of the University of Venezuela, so I’m hopeful that my colleagues there would be sensitive to the issues that you bring up. In addition, based on what I’ve seen in my own work with readers, people often turn to or are inspired to write. Maybe they’re writing in their own language?