I just learned about this via a Facebook post to an old news story, but a little bit of research shows this dude is still going strong. This man is Luis Soriano, and he brings books (and literacy!) to rural areas in Colombia. Soriano is an elementary school teacher, with a degree in Spanish literature. He bought two burros – Alfa and Beto – and travels around the Magdalena district of Colombia, helping kids with their homework and reading to them! He’s the subject of a CNN news story and a PBS special. There’s at least two children’s books written about him! (And another book about interesting mobile libraries.)
Soriano is really impressive; he’s been tied up by bandits (annoyed that he didn’t have any money), fractured his leg when he fell from his donkey, and more recently had a leg amputated due to a donkey accident, but he’s still committed to bringing books to children! (According to Wikipedia, at least, though I’m having trouble finding a current website or blog for him.)
Soriano isn’t the only one finding creative ways of bringing books to people. In Argentina, the Arma de Instruccion Masiva, or “Weapon of Mass Instruction” travels the streets of Buenos Aires, bringing books to all. (Video and more photos at the link, and you can find him on Facebook.) Raul Lemesoff turned his 1979 Ford Falcon into a library tank! The library consists of about 900 books and growing.
Kenya’s mobile library travels on the back of a camel! They have a website and a novel written about their work. It was started in 1996 and travels to four settlements per day, four times a week, with 12 camels! They’re always looking for donations, and their website has details for how to donate.
In Zimbabwe, donkey-pulled carts, organized by the Rural Libraries and Resources Development Programme, bring books to rural areas.
There are many other unique mobile libraries, from classic cars to bicycle trailers to boats. Seeing people so passionate about sharing the joy of reading is really inspiring, and I definitely won’t take my local library for granted anymore! I may even need to go through my own stacks and see about donating a few to some of these, though parting with books is something that I find it incredibly hard to do.
When was the last time you went to the library?