Behind the Wheel of a Bookmobile

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Working route & schedule from Chicago to San Francisco


September 13 through October 13, 2009

Schedule is subject to change.

July 12: Launch at ALA Annual conference, McCormick Place, Chicago

September 13 and 14: Preparation days in Chicago

September 15: Chicago to Franklin Grove, Illinois. West on U.S. 30, through Plainfield, crossing historic Route 66 on the way to Aurora.From Aurora, Illinois state route 31 north towards Geneva. At Geneva, west on IL 38 through Rochelle to Franklin Grove, the location of the National Headquarters of the Lincoln Highway Association. Short travel day to allow for getting accustomed to the truck and stage interviews.

September 16: Franklin Grove, Illinois to Clinton, Iowa. West on IL 38 to Sterling, rejoin U.S. 30 just west of Sterling, through Morrison, and then on IL 136 to Fulton, crossing the Mississippi River into Iowa on the Gateway Bridge into Clinton. Short travel day to allow for getting accustomed to the truck and stage interviews.

September 17: Clinton, Iowa, to Ames, Iowa. West on U.S. 30, 30S and 30A, all pieces of the original Lincoln Highway, as are the routes cited for following days.

September 18: Day layover in Ames, Iowa, for interviews.

September 19: Ames, Iowa, to Council Bluffs, Iowa. West on U.S. 30, 30S, and 30A.

September 20: Day layover in Council Bluffs, Iowa, for interviews.

September 21: Council Bluffs, Iowa, to Grand Island, Nebraska. Cross into Nebraska at Blair and drive local roads to original Lincoln Highway bricks laid down in 1920. Continue toward Elkhorn, at Elkhorn, take Nebraska state route 64 west to U.S. 275 northwest to Fremont. At Fremont, back onto U.S. 30 west through Columbus to Grand Island.

September 22: Day layover in Grand Island, Nebraska, for interviews.

September 23: Grand Island, Nebraska, to Kearney, Nebraska. U.S. 30. Short travel day to allow for interviews times.

September 24: Kearney, Nebraska, to Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. U.S. 30.

September 25: Day layover in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming, for interviews.

September 26: Pine Bluffs, Wyoming, to Cheyenne, Wyoming. On U.S.30 adjacent to Interstate 80. Short travel day to allow for interviews.

September 27: Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Fort Bridger, Wyoming. On roads to be determined adjacent to Interstate 80.

September 28: Day layover in Fort Bridger, Wyoming, for interviews.

September 29: Fort Bridger, Wyoming to Salt Lake City, Utah. On roads to be determined adjacent to Interstate 80. The Lincoln Highway enters Utah from the east on what is now private land.

September 30: Day layover in Salt Lake City, Utah (or nearby small town), for interviews.

October 1: Salt Lake City, Utah, to Fish Springs, Utah (a ghost town). On roads to be determined adjacent to Interstate 80.

October 2: Fish Springs, Utah (or an alternative with services), to Ely, Nevada. On roads to be determined adjacent to Interstate 80 with a transition to U.S. 50.

October 3: Day layover in Ely, Nevada, for interviews.

October 4: Ely, Nevada, to Austin, Nevada. On U.S. 50 ("The loneliest road in America," Life magazine).

October 5: Day layover in Ely, Nevada, for interviews.

October 6: Austin Nevada, to Dayton, Nevada. On U.S. 50.

October 7: Day layover in Dayton, Nevada, (where Sheila and Peter were married along the banks of the Carson River, schedule party for their 35th anniversary) for interviews.

October 8: Carson City, Nevada, to South Lake Tahoe, California. On U.S. 50.

October 9: Day layover in South Lake Tahoe, California, for interviews.

October 10: South Lake Tahoe, California, to Stockton, California. U.S. 50 to U.S. 99.

October 11: Day layover in Stockton, California, for interviews.

October 12: Stockton, California, to Livermore, California. Via roads to be determined en route to the Duarte Garage/Lincoln Highway Museum.

October 13: Livermore, California, to Mill Valley, California. Via roads and city streets to be announced, to California route 37, along the San Francisco Bay to Mill Valley, California (headquarters of The Bookmobile Project).

October 14:

Mill Valley, California to San Francisco, California. The dramatic arrival at the terminus of the Lincoln Highway and Lit Quake via the Golden Gate Bridge.

“Behind the Wheel of a Bookmobile” is a quixotic journey that will honor the place books have in our national consciousness. Authors Peter Laufer and Tom Corwin conceived this project.

It began with the whimsical idea of buying a vintage bookmobile, stocking it with donated books from publishers, and driving it cross-country through small towns, with well-known authors taking turns at the wheel. At each stop Corwin and Laufer hand out one book in exchange for an interview on the journey's thematic question - "Tell me about one book that has changed your life and how." A documentary film crew captures the stories.

In the few weeks since hatching the idea, the project has received the hearty support of the Association of American Publishers as well as the American Library Association - and a deal has been made to purchase a beautiful bookmobile (capacity: 3,200 volumes, see below) in Chicago. National Geographic has agreed to feature the journey in National Geographic Traveler Magazine and The Kitchen Sisters have expressed their desire to audiotape interviews along the way with both authors and regular Joes and Janes about what books have meant in their lives for NPR.

Laufer and Corwin have buy-in from a growing list of amazing authors excited to support the project and in most cases, take a shift behind the wheel of the bookmobile: including Pulitzer Prize-winners Lawrence Wright, Michael Chabon and Junot Diaz, as well as bestselling authors Tobias Wolff, Annie Lamott, Daniel Handler, Ayelet Waldman, Peter Coyote, Robert Anderson, Dave Eggers, Paul Hawkin, Vendela Vida, Scott Simon, Tamim Ansari, Amy Tan, Andrew Sean Greer, and Michael Pollan – with more joining the trip day by day. 

The journey is planned to begin in September, following the Lincoln Highway, America’s first cross country roadway and concluding in mid-October in San Francisco at Litquake, (San Francisco’s leading literary festival) where our bookmobile will be a float at the concluding “lit crawl,” cruising up and down Valencia Street, loaded with authors.

An ongoing literacy education and outreach program will also be designed around “Behind the Wheel of a Bookmobile’s” continued travels. As it tours coast to coast, the programs reach will be extended with a video travel blog, interviews and web-isodes distributed to schools, teachers and classrooms across the nation through our affiliations with the American Library Association and the American Association of Publishers existing school outreach programs.

About the Authors

Tom Corwin is an author, musician, and music producer. His credits include work with artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Patti Labelle, Booker T., and Stevie Wonder. Tom is the author of the bestselling book Mostly Bob (New World Library) and Mr Fooster: Traveling on a Whim, (Doubleday). In addition, he served as consulting producer on Emile Norman: By His Own Design which was broadcast nationally on PBS.

Journalist and broadcaster Peter Laufer is the author of more than a dozen books dealing with social and political issues worldwide; his latest book The Dangerous World of Butterflies (The Lyons Press). He co-produced the documentary films Exodus to Berlin and Garbage. Among his credits as a globetrotting correspondent for NBC News was the George Polk Award for his study of Americans in prisons overseas.