Winnipeg Book Bike

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Ch­eryl Madliger

The two Rs: read­ing and rid­ing

This past sum­mer, the Winnipeg Pub­lic Li­brary com­bined read­ing and rid­ing with its book bike. Mo­bile li­braries in bi­cy­cle form are be­com­ing more pop­u­lar in warmer re­gions, but in Canada, the trend has been slower to take off. Some cities opt to out­fit a van or bus with book­shelves to bring li­braries to res­i­dents. Book­mo­biles have been a means of cre­at­ing ac­cess to li­braries’ ser­vices in re­mote ar­eas for decades.

Winnipeg’s idea to use a bike was in­spired by the li­brary in Cam­rose, Alta., whose book bike was the first of its kind in such a chilly Cana­dian cli­mate. Ac­cord­ing to Chris Lau­rie, an out­reach li­brar­ian at the Winnipeg Pub­lic Li­brary, the Man­i­toba cap­i­tal used a lo­cal com­pany to cus­tom make a book bike with a lot of func­tion­al­ity.

“The book bike is a retro-style three-wheeler with the cargo space in the front,” he said. “It con­tains two shelves for li­brary ma­te­rial, and opens up to cre­ate a dis­play of books and space for our lap­top.” With the com­puter, the li­brar­ian man­ning the bike can make up li­brary cards, use the li­brary cat­a­logue to lo­cate books and demon­strate on­line re­sources such as ebooks and au­dio­books, stream­ing en­ter­tain­ment and on­line cour­ses the in­sti­tu­tion of­fers.

The book bike was a suc­cess in 2016 and will ex­pand its range this sum­mer. The li­brary will take “book­ings” al­most any­where. “For the bike’s first sum­mer last year, we at­tended the down­town farm­ers mar­ket, Cen­tral Park, Old Mar­ket Square, Broad­way and other down­town lo­ca­tions as well as var­i­ous lo­ca­tions in St. Boni­face,” Lau­rie said. “It was a huge hit.”

“We carry a va­ri­ety of cur­rent fic­tion and non-fic­tion books for adults, young adults, and kids,” he added. “And, we se­lect ma­te­ri­als on a theme that ties into the lo­ca­tion. For ex­am­ple, if we are at a farm­ers mar­ket, we will bring books on fruits and veg­eta­bles, recipes, and pick­ling and pre­serv­ing. If we are on Broad­way near the food trucks at lunch, we will bring books on street food.”

Last year, Lau­rie was one of the staff who rode the book bike to its di­verse des­ti­na­tions – an in­ter­est­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, he said. “The bike it­self han­dles ex­tremely well, you just need to be mind­ful of it mak­ing wide turns,” he said. “And watch out for pot­holes.”

But how fast can you go on the bike?

“You ac­tu­ally can’t go quickly on the bike be­cause so many peo­ple want to ask you ques­tions about the bike and the li­brary, and to take pic­tures,” Lau­rie said, hint­ing at one of the best parts about the book bike – the ex­po­sure it pro­vides for the li­brary. “Many peo­ple are cu­ri­ous about it and that’s a great op­por­tu­nity for us to have a con­ver­sa­tion with them, find out their in­ter­ests, and then share rel­e­vant li­brary in­for­ma­tion with them that they of­ten know noth­ing about.”

“It con­tains two shelves for li­brary ma­te­rial, and opens up to cre­ate a dis­play of books and space for our lap­top.”

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