Bookmobiles Are Back at The New York Public Library

Three new mobile libraries are set to hit the streets in coming months, with the first expected to launch in June in the Bronx

Media Contact: Angela Montefinise /

Photos of the new bookmobile here (credit Jonathan Blanc / NYPL). Photos of historic NYPL bookmobiles here.  

APRIL 11, 2019—The New York Public Library is taking its show on the road.

The system announced today—during National Library Week—that it will soon have three new bookmobiles available to serve communities in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. The first bookmobile will undergo testing this month, and is expected to begin service in the Bronx by June. The other two bookmobiles will hit the streets by the fall.

The mobile libraries are nearly 20-foot-long Sprinter vans wrapped in bright red and sporting the iconic New York Public Library lion logo. Each bookmobile will be staffed with two Library employees and will be capable of transporting up to 1,000 books for patrons of all ages that have either been requested for checkout or can be browsed curbside. Books can also be returned or renewed, and New Yorkers can sign up for library cards and receive reference and reader services.

The bookmobiles will have many roles, including helping to supplement service when branches are temporarily closed for much-needed renovations and improvements. For example, the first bookmobile will support the Bronx community impacted by the one-year closure of the Grand Concourse Library for improvements (more information about that project here). The Library system—which is doing a record amount of capital improvement work—is also working with local community organizations and considering increased hours at nearby branches to sustain service during closures.

Beyond supplemental service, the mobile libraries will also visit local community centers (schools, senior centers, high-traffic areas) to engage the community and bring library service out of the walls of local branches. The schedule and location of the bookmobiles will be available beginning this summer on the Library’s website at and via social media.

The new mobile libraries—funded by the City of New York—are the first New York Public Library bookmobiles to serve the public in decades, and the latest chapter in a long history of bookmobile service. Various “book vans,” “bookwagons,” and “traveling libraries” were used by The New York Public Library over its 124-year history to bring books and information directly to communities.

“We are so excited to roll out the next generation of New York Public Library Bookmobiles, which will allow us to take our books and services on the road and directly to New Yorkers in communities across our system,” said New York Public Library Interim Chief Branch Library Officer Caryl Matute. “One of the best parts of being a librarian is engaging with New Yorkers, and this mobile library will give us new opportunities to do just that. We know that when kids and adults see the bookmobile coming, they’ll get excited to indulge in their next read, and we can’t wait to get started.”

About The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming, and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves nearly 17 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at