About the Bookmobile

Hressir strákar í bókabílnum Höfðingja

The idea to run a bookmobile in Reykjavik dates back to 1955, the same year that the Volvo bus, which would eventually become the first bookmobile, came off the assembly line. City officials finally approved the purchase of a bookmobile, which was based on a Swedish model, in 1966. After years of searching for a bookmobile, a decision was made to convert a public bus that had been retired when the nation took up driving on the right side of the road in 1968. 

The newly hired bookmobile driver, Bjarni Björnsson, arrived to the bookmobile’s original home base at the fire station on Tjarnargata on the first day of summer in 1969. There, at the fire station, the bookmobile had storage space for 12,000 books. It began lending books on July 11th (at 13:00) in front of the Selás store in Árbær, one of its 14 original stops. The bookmobile was well received, and it went on to loan 200,000 books that first year. 

Shortly thereafter, another smaller bookmobile was custom ordered from Finland. This bookmobile, which hit the road in 1972, received the name Stubbur (“Shorty”). The older, bigger one was then named Höfðingi (“The Chief”). In their lifetimes, the two bookmobiles loaned more than 2 million books, and at its peak, The Chief loaned 1,000 books per day, which is more than any of the Reykjavik City library branches loan today.

At the turn of the century, a new bookmobile was purchased to replace the original Chief, a Scania car fitted in Finland and illustrated by Gunnar Karlsson. It hit the road on February 23rd, 2001, and Shorty was subsequently retired. The older Chief was sent to the Transportation Museum in Stóra Gerði, in Skagafjörður, where it remains today. You can visit the car there and reminisce about the good old days when it made its rounds in the city.  

The bookmobile is still on the road and now stops at 30 locations in Reykjavik, from Skerjafjörður all the way to Kjalarnes. 

Bookmobile phone number: +354 699 0316
For more information, contact director Guðríður Sigurbjörnsdóttir:
gudridur.sigurbjornsdottir@reykjavik.is