Bookmobile Running Again in Door County

The Door County Bookmobile is on the road again.

The bookmobile for nearly 40 years traveled through the county to provide library access in rural areas before breaking down in 1989.

It was subsequently purchased by the late John Enigl, a historian who used the vehicle to store his own book collection on his Town of Egg Harbor property. It stayed there until 2014 when the Egg Harbor Historical Society (EHHS) purchased it, raised money and restored it to a working condition.

Back on the road officially on March 13, the bookmobile took groups out for short rides from Reese’s Body Shop south of Sturgeon Bay – where a new chassis and engine had been put in – and headed north in the county, including a stop in Baileys Harbor in front of the Peninsula Pulse office near the town hall and library.

Behind the wheel was John Sawyer, who was one of those instrumental in the bookmobile’s restoration project, with Egg Harbor Historical Society board member and bookmobile project co-chair, Carey Bertschinger, along for the ride.

“It goes about 52 mph,” Sawyer said.

With the bookmobile now running and also restored on the exterior, Sawyer said the interior cabinets will now be refinished in Sister Bay by Steve Fischer.

“We’re going to put a whole new floor down, and when that’s done it’s going to go back to Reese’s [Body Shop] for the final little trim work and things,” Sawyer said.

Bertschinger said future plans include equipping it with features it didn’t have originally.

“We’re getting a mobile Wi-Fi, so that we can plug into the internet, regardless of what village [or town] we’re in,” she said. “And it’s going to be all the way from Washington Island down to Southern Door.”

Parades are in the bookmobile’s immediate future – Fourth of July in Egg Harbor and Baileys Harbor, for example – and having enough volunteers to show the bookmobile around is a top priority.

“We need to make sure that we have enough people that can drive it, help clean it and get it ready for the next event,” Bertschinger said.

Bertschinger said no CDL license is needed to drive the bookmobile, and two people have already volunteered to drive the automatic transmission vehicle.

“But we need more than two drivers, if we’re going to do multiple events,” she said.

Bertschinger said the EHHS will be transferring the title of the bookmobile to a 501c3 established for it – Door County Bookmobile, Inc. – during an event at Horseshoe Bay Farms on June 21 from 3-6 pm. 

Along with promoting the history of the bookmobile, Sawyer said future plans for it include having book giveaways for K-2 students, and later on working toward checking out donated books.

“We won’t be associated with the [Door County Library], but if the library decides they want to budget money and put it within their system, they can do that for so many days,” he said.

Also this month, the Egg Harbor Village Board approved a $1-per year, five-year lease for the bookmobile and EHHS to share office space within the former village visitor center building east of the post office.

When asked how long he’d like to see the bookmobile operate, Sawyer said “forever.”

“We’re raising a lot of dollars to put it back [in operation], and we want to keep it going,” he said. “We have a system set up, the board of directors, that we see that once we get it on the road, it will continue as a historical piece, educational piece for the county for many years to come.”

The bookmobile restoration project includes a $500,000 fundraising goal that’s being raised through grants, donations and fundraisers.

Related Organizations