LISTEN: John Sawyer discusses the Bookmobile project with Myles Dannhausen Jr. on the Door County Pulse Podcast at doorcountypulse.com/podcasts.
The Door County Bookmobile will be back in action Saturday at Sawyer Farms in Egg Harbor during a celebration and fundraiser for its restoration.
The partially restored vehicle, which once made books accessible to kids in rural Door County and sparked their imagination, will be on display during a pig-roast fundraiser on the farm Aug. 19, 2-8 pm. Visitors may come and go during that time to walk through the Bookmobile and see the restoration progress. The celebration will also include live music, historical presentations, beverages and a silent auction featuring items from more than 100 local businesses.
The Bookmobile began its journey in 1950, when the Wisconsin Free Library Commission developed the Door-Kewaunee Regional Library Demonstration: a two-year experiment that aimed to make libraries more accessible in rural areas. The Bookmobile was part of that experiment, but it lived well past its intended two years. The state funded it until 1952, when Door County residents voted to keep funding it with tax dollars.
The vehicle toured the peninsula until it broke down in 1989 and was later purchased by John Enigl, a historian who used the truck for storing his book collection on his Egg Harbor property. That’s where it stayed until 2014, when the Egg Harbor Historical Society (EHHS) purchased it with the intention to restore it.
During the early planning stages, the Bookmobile restoration project was solely an EHHS endeavor, but a committee headed by John Sawyer and Carey Bertschinger have since broadened the scope to include the members of the Heritage Alliance of Door County. They’ve raised more than $140,000 toward the $500,000 project goal.
The funds will support restoration, as well as paying drivers, housing the vehicle, and designing and executing programming. So, although the Bookmobile will eventually look the same, its functions will expand to be education, history and community involvement. Join the Aug. 19 community celebration at Sawyer Farms, 7590 Sunny Point Road in Egg Harbor. Learn more at bookmobiledoorcounty.org.