It was a great pleasure to drive up to my hometown, Winnemucca, Nevada, on October 17 with a carload of books to participate in a fundraiser for the Humboldt County Library’s new bookmobile. The library bookmobile is a mobile library that travels on a schedule to the rural schools of the district, bringing books and a dose of fun for children across the far-flung and often isolated parts of the county. The Center was very proud to support the efforts of the bookmobile and the library to instill literacy and a love of reading in rural children. As a boy living on a ranch 90 miles from the nearest town, I can attest to the power that the bookmobile had to help develop a passion for reading that has informed my entire life and brought me to where I am today.
So thanks to Ginny Dufurrena, the bookmobile coordinator (and driver!) for inviting me to this great event, to the people of Winnemucca who took such an interest in our books, especially My Mama Marie by Winnemuccan Joan Errea, and Basques in the United States as Winnemucca was a locus of Basque settlement and a major shipping point for the entirety of northwestern Nevada, and the southern reaches of Idaho and Oregon.
When the county was looking for funding for the bookmobile, Ginny asked me to provide a testimony of what the bookmobile means, which of course I happily did, and here it is if you’re interested in learning a bit more about the bookmobile has meant for me. Gero arte and keep reading kids!
Bookmobile day! As a boy it made my heart jump. It was the day the world visited the family ranch where I grew up—90 miles from the nearest library. It slowly rolled in and settled itself underneath the locust tree shade in front of our one-room schoolhouse alongside the stone-walled shop building. The door opened and sweet Lyn Melody unfolded the metal stair step and then, in the proverbial “middle of nowhere” the doors to a giant world opened up. I was partial to any history, better yet even Civil War, the Sharpe’s Rifles series, so many more. I especially always remember being unable to tear myself from Harriet the Spy from the bookmobile on a spring afternoon on the way home from the McDermitt Track Meet. Harriet’s adventures mirrored my own feelings so much that it is one of my most powerful experiences of reading and a memory I treasure. More than any individual book though was the sensation of richness, vastness, of stepping into a root cellar that instead of stocked with the provisions of the belly was stocked brim full of the provisions for my mind and that extended well beyond the bounds of our corner of the high desert. The bookmobile didn’t ignite my love for reading, but it gave that fire the tinder, kindling, and sturdy logs for a life in which books and ideas have burned in me insatiably. It carried me through the university, the Peace Corps, graduate school, then to getting my start in book publishing at Penguin Books in New York City, and years of editing. Now, as the book editor for the Center for Basque Studies at UNR, I am honored to be able to share books I’ve edited and published with the bookmobile that I love so much.