Text: Solveig Hansen, 2018
With no library nearby, a bookmobile saves the day.
If you happen to be in the Matera province in the south of Italy and spot a bright blue three-wheeled vehicle, a hybrid between a motorbike and a van carrying a book house with red roof and a chimney, you are looking at Il Bibliomotocarro. A portable library that houses 700 books.
Behind the wheel, retired Italian schoolteacher Antonio La Cava. In 2003, after 42 years of teaching, he took it upon himself to bring books to children in the remote villages throughout the region, small communities with a population of a few hundred and no libraries. It’s a long route, nearly 500 kilometers (roughly 300 miles). He announces his arrival with a sound of an organ, and the children, recognizing the sound, come running for their next book.
La Cava built the bookmobile with his own money and has bought 5–6 thousand books over the years. His mission is to instill in the children not only a love of reading but also of writing. Alongside the books, he brings with him new empty notebooks, libri bianchi, for the children to write their own stories.
There’s still beauty in the world. C’è ancora bellezza nel mondo.
A disinterest in reading often starts in schools where the technique is taught, but it’s not being accompanied by love. Reading should be a pleasure, not a duty.
— Antonio La Cava
Watch maestro La Cava and his Bibliomotocarro on the road carrying the precious cargo. The video is from the Italian Rai 3. Watch it even if you don’t speak Italian. You’ll be inspired.