13. Knowledge in Motion – Book Transportation

When Texas State University moved their collection to a new library in 1990, they had a symbolic “book moving” ceremony, creating a human chain of people to highlight the moving of books from one place to another.


“The “Book-it Brigade” was an event that encouraged faculty, staff, students, and alumni to help move the library from JCK to the new library…. The documents in the first box [moved] include fliers, the names of special guests and dignitaries, and the names of the books chosen to be the first moved to the new library”

This human book-moving chain from thirty-four years ago was documented with 168 photos in a Flickr album but the history of getting community books from one place to another goes back to the days of traveling libraries and rural library service.

Boxing books for the Lending Library, Mitchell Building, photograph by Ivan Ives, 29.10.1943, Pix Magazine Collection

This is a picture from the State Library of New South Wales from 1944 using a box system created in 1883. Here’s more information from when this picture was in a magazine, available now via Trove.

“Assistants are packing boxes for country book circulation. Every year about 5000 boxes, containing 100,000 books, are sent to country institutes and small country schools. Reference books are sent direct to country students.”

For another look from halfway around the world here are some book boxes from the Finnish Seafarers’ Union from the 1920s and are circulating libraries, to be brought aboard boats, from the Finnish Museum of Photography.

Kulutusosuuskuntien Keskusliiton kokoelma D1974_33_7561B

A very similar library-in-motion in this photograph from the Mennonite Church USA Archives showing a “tin trunk” traveling library in an Indian village from the 1960s, a method that is still used to get some materials to remote locations in Southeast Asia to this day.

Tin trunk library, India, 1963

And since we’re speaking of books (we’re always speaking of books!) here’s more quirky book storage, a collection of miniature books at the Library of Congress with the curator, V. Valtra Parma, identified in the comments.

Identified! V. Valtra Parma, [Library of Congress Rare Book Division curator with a collection of miniature books] (LOC)

Books for everyone!

Books for everyone. (LOC)