So That All May Read: The 1954 Kentucky Bookmobile Project


So That All May Read: The 1954 Kentucky Bookmobile Project

Learn about the small group that brought books to rural Kentucky.

What You Will Learn

Kentucky has had more bookmobiles on the Commonwealth’s highways than any other state for almost 70 years! Prior to that time, Kentucky ranked at the bottom for library service, few books were available and 1/3 of Kentuckians who volunteered for the armed forces were rejected for being illiterate. A small group of Kentuckians led by a Louisville businessman, the matron of Kentucky’s most prominent newspaper family, and the granddaughter of an old Louisville family organized a campaign to fix this situation. Hear the story of the earliest attempts to bring books to Kentuckians and learn how this small but dedicated group brought books to rural Kentucky and laid the foundation for public library service we enjoy today.


Wayne Onkst is the retired State Librarian and Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. A lifelong lover of books and reading, he took his first job at the age of 16 in the Laurel County Public Library. After obtaining degrees in history and library science from the University of Kentucky, he was a librarian at the Kenton County Public Library for 27 years, serving as Director of the Library from 1999-2006. In 2006, he was appointed State Librarian and Commissioner and served until 2015.

He authored Buffalo Trails to the 21st Century: a History of Erlanger, Ky. and Presidential Visits to Kentucky 1819-2017.

He is a long time genealogist.

Wayne and his wife, Debbie, are residents of Erlanger, Kentucky. They have two sons and three wonderful granddaughters.

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