Humble Humans

Southern Italy’s Literary Santa

Over the course of his 42 year teaching career, Antonio La Cava noticed a diminished love of books from the younger generation, and he became a bit worried about “growing old in a community of non-readers”. So to spread the joy of reading to children, the retired elementary school teacher purchased a used motorbike and converted it into Il Bibliomotocarro – a three-wheeled mobile library with 1000 books in tow.

For the past 20 years, Antonio has traveled 500km every week to visit small, remote villages in the Basilicata region of southern Italy – some with as few as two children of primary school age. But no matter the size of the town, Antonio tends to be greeted with a rush of smiles when they hear the speaker playing his arrival song.

The concept of bookmobiles actually goes back to the 1800s in Warrington, England. The only difference is that instead of motorized vehicles, these were wagons drawn by traditional horse power. As brick & mortar libraries would soon come to be the norm in communities, the tradition of the traveling book lender soon died out. Thankfully there are individuals like Antonio who still share a passion for sharing the written word with those who cannot access it very easily.

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