Serving the East Side
The first Kalamazoo Public Library branch dedicated to serving the east side of the city opened in 1912 in the original East Avenue School building. Due to increasing usage over the years, the branch moved in 1940 to a storefront location further up the street, at 1719 East Main, next to Triestram's City Drug Store.
Among the services provided from that branch in the early 1970s was the "buchwagen." This mini-bookmobile was actually the book-laden Volkswagen of then-librarian Lorna Chapman. She and an assistant drove through the streets of the east and north sides of the city, tooting their horn and playing rock music until they encountered a gathering of children. They would stop, sometimes read to the children, and allow them to choose books from the back of the “buchwagen.” A week later, they would return to the same location to pick up the books and provide others. It was part of Chapman's philosophy of librarianship to take books directly to children who might never venture into the library on their own.