Thursday, April 9, 2015

Book Bikes Rolling From Coast To Coast

Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection
Remember Bookmobiles? Those big shiny buses that brought books to your neighborhood and let you check them out right then and there? You didn’t even have to get your mother to drive you to the library?

Well, if you live in Seattle or Boulder, Cleveland or Tucson, Rochester or about fifty other towns, the Bookmobile may now be a Book Bike!
According to American Libraries Magazine (8/14), custom-made library book bikes are being used by libraries across the country to bring books and services to local citizens, using old-fashioned pedal power. The BookBikes go to parks, schools, community events, senior centers – wherever readers congregate. It’s a way, too, to tell people about the services the library provides and to get new
readers to apply for library cards. In some towns, it’s a way to give free books to readers, young and old.

Cleveland Heights - University Heights Public Library (Ohio), Pima County Public Library (Arizona) and Denver Public Library (Colorado) were among the earliest to adopt the idea of BookBikes. (Cleveland Heights)
In Cleveland Heights, BookBike began as a pilot program in which library staffers and volunteers loaded a custom-made Haley cargo tricycle with books to give away at local facilities. It has since morphed into an extension of the library’s checkout desk. Librarians pedal circulating materials to John Carroll University “where people can check out [Cleveland Heights - University Heights Public Library] materials using software it shares with the University library.” The bikers also carry a tablet to show off library services and materials. According to American, “plans are in motion to turn the tablet into a full-fledged circulation device with OverDrive." (
In 2013, the Denver Public Library launched a BookBike service that “circulates books, provides a wireless hotspot; and assists with research, ebook downloads and library card sign-ups.” (

In the same year, the Seattle Public Library started Books on Bikes. Librarians travel to city facilities, including schools, using a specially made trailer hitched to their personal bikes. They provide all services (including Wi-Fi hotspots) except for book returns and late fines. (

Starting in 2012, Pima County librarians used theirs to give books away to readers. Using donations from individuals and local bookstores, they gave away more than 12,000 books in one year. (

Rochester Public Library’s project launches this month. Their BookBike will travel to locations within a one-mile radius of the library, bringing library cards, books to check out and “fun giveaways for the kids.” (

And, on September 13-19, Outside the Lines, an initiative designed by Colorado library marketers and directors, will celebrate “the creativity and innovation happening in libraries.” As of now, 48 libraries across the country have signed on to celebrate in their towns. (
Funding for the BookBike programs comes from many sources. One of the more innovative is being tried by the Montclair (NJ) Public Library. They’re seeking donations through crowdsourcing to fund their BookBike. If you’d like to contribute to the effort, go to

1 comment:

  1. Such great ideas. It seems the book bike would have come first and then the book mobile but it's good to hear about any publicity to get people to read and to get free books to people who wouldn't go to the library (or Amazon) otherwise!