The Peterborough Examiner
Colourful ‘book bike’ new at the library
The Peterborough Public Library’s book bike is now a work of art.
The bike, made in the U.S., was acquired late last summer; it’s a mobile library that can carry about 100 books to places such as park story times for children.
This week it was painted by local artist Jason Wilkins so it’s more eye-catching than ever.
Library CEO Jennifer Jones said to look for the bike out and about one day a week this summer.
“Our endgame is to have a regular route for it,” Jones said.
It’s one of several new and ongoing projects in the library.
Here are some more:
Free menstrual products
The library started offering menstrual products for free in the washrooms a few weeks ago, where previously the dispensers were coinoperated.
Jones said it’s an equity issue — she believes the products ought to be available to those who need them.
However, she said, there’s a practical side, too: the coin-operated boxes often needed repairs, as people would try to force open the boxes to steal the money inside (which Jones said was never enough to cover the cost of the menstrual products).
Instead of often repairing the boxes, the idea was simply to offer the products free.
Jones said library leaders didn’t have to mull the decision for long: “We just did it.”
Some city social service workers have been keeping office hours in the library for a year now, and Jones said that program is successful and ongoing.
The workers are there to answer questions about topics such as child care, housing, rent supplements and referrals to community resources.
Jones said library staff has been “appreciative” of having social service workers on the spot to answer those types of questions: “Because there’s some things we (librarians) don’t know … Social services is absolutely helping.”
Jones also said that instances of people overdosing or suffering drug poisonings in the library — commonplace in 2022 — have declined dramatically since the opening of the supervised drug consumption and treatment site across the street in the former Greyhound station, a year ago.
Before the consumption and treatment site opened, Jones said, there were daily ambulance calls for people with symptoms of drug poisoning, in the library.
In the ongoing opioid crisis — and with homelessness on the rise — the library had become a de facto shelter space.
But now sometimes several weeks pass without a 911 call.
“There’s been an absolutely massive difference,” Jones said. “They (the drug consumption and treatment site) are amazing neighbours.”