Off Beat: 1940s-era dispute wasn’t end of bookmobile story



It’s the end of the road for Clark County’s bookmobile.

As The Columbian reported recently, its demise was a result of shrinking resources, changing times and a quest for better ways to serve outlying areas of Clark County.

This isn’t the first time the county bookmobile went away. It also happened in 1948, when there was a problem with a title.

Inside the just-retired bookmobile, an artist had painted timelines and historical notes on the vehicle’s interior walls.

One segment, next to the door, recalled when the library system lost its bookmobile 64 years ago because of that title dispute.

It wasn’t the title of a controversial book that caused the problem: It was the vehicle title.

The bookmobile program started here in November 1941 with the help of a public works program created during the Great Depression.

Things went along just fine, with the bookmobile serving readers at stops such as Bee Tree and Jay’s Place until 1948. Then, the bookmobile driver was stopped in Camas for a speeding violation.

During the legal proceedings, it became unclear who actually owned the bookmobile, even though it had been in continuous use here since 1941.

The bookmobile was declared war surplus and claimed by the U.S. Army.

But there was a happy ending to the story, according to the bookmo-bio. Actually, there were a couple of happy endings. A Ford van was quickly purchased to replace the bookmobile. And the speeding charge was dropped.

— Tom Vogt

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.