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Monday, January 18, 2010

My Librarian Is a Camel, written by Margriet Ruurs. Boyds Mills, Publishers Group Canada, 2005. $22.00 ages 8 and up

"I was thrilled to learn how far people would go to put books into the hands of young readers. I began to contact librarians in faraway places. They responded by sharing information, personal stories and photos of their mobile libraries and of the young people who use them. Over time, I assembled a scrapbook of mobile libraries from all over the world."

Margriet Ruurs begins in Australia and ends in Zimbabwe in her world tour of libraries and the many forms they take. She gives us uplifting short peeks at the ways people find to get books into the hands of kids. In Australia, there are seventy-two mobile libraries that cover the whole continent to make sure that children who can't get to a city library still have access to books. One such truck sports a high tech facility which uses solar power to run six computers and a printer. It also has air conditioning, surround sound, spotlights, a wheelchair ramp, and other amenities for those who use it. In Nunavut a Borrower-by-Mail system is used by the government's public library system to send books to those requesting them. Children pay nothing to get the books, or to return them. In Finland a book boat brings six hundred books to the rocky islands of the south coast. It makes ten stops each time from May through October.

Fascinating photos accompany the author's text and she includes a map to show the country of interest, their flag and information about the nation and its people and languages. The photos show clearly the many ways that people have devised to ensure that children get books and the learning that comes with them. Camels, sleds, wheelbarrows, bicycles, wagons, double decker buses...if it moves it might find use as a deliverer of books to children who love them. Readers will be surprised to learn what this book has to tell us about libraries, and the many forms they take.

A world map, at the beginning, places each country mentioned, and is useful.

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