Instead of those gimmicky bicycle rickshaws that carry tourists around downtown, imagine a new type of bicycle service, one that carries books to underserved neighborhoods, hands out library cards, and encourages learning. Pretty cool, yeah? Turns out, it already exists.
This is Books on Bikes, a program by Seattle Public Library. It keeps the library flexible and relevant, and it reaches kids and adults alike who might not otherwise have access to a library. Over the course of a year, the Books on Bike program visits 20-30 events and services about 1,500 people. The program has three bike trailers:
- The Haulin’ Colin: The original trailer designed and built by Colin Stevens. It has built-in shelves with display books, and it can handle 500 pound of library. An umbrella protects the books in the case of rain.
- The compact flat-top trailer. It has an urban cityscape painted on it by Seattle artist Eroyn Franklin.
- The covered Reading Wagon. It comes complete with a kid-friendly theme. Eroyn Franklin created this one, too.
Each trailer also has wi-fi, which lets people sign up for a library card. One of the 16 bicycle librarians just has to tap an iPad, and suddenly someone has access to thousands and thousands of books, and every piece of information they could want.
Books on Bikes will be at Occidental Square today (11:30 am – 1:30 pm), so if you’re going to see Polyrhythmics at the Out to Lunch concert series, you’ll see one of the trailers.
We think this program is incredible. It spreads reading and knowledge to people who might not otherwise get it, and it does it in a carbon-neutral way. It’s community-building done right, and if there’s one thing we care about, it’s a Seattle that is more than just isolated individuals. It’s a Seattle where people haul books on bicycles to share them with others and help this community grow together.