Library system unveils Book Bike

FREDERICK, Md. — Frederick County Public Libraries brings the library to customers — on three wheels.

The Book Bike is designed to reach people who might not be able to travel to a library branch in person.

“It’s a library on a bicycle,” children’s librarian Robin Dugan said at the recent unveiling in Frederick.

The bike’s bright orange cargo box, balanced between two front wheels, can carry up to 260 pounds, according to an FCPL press release.

It is equipped with an electric boost to help the rider pedal heavy loads. Library staff estimate that the Book Bike can hold 300 children’s picture books or 120 adult fiction books.

The Library Service and Technology Act grant from the Maryland State Library funded the Book Bike.

The bike was revealed during children’s story time at the Carroll Creek Amphitheater. The youngsters bounced on the adults’ laps while listening to a bicycle-themed story.

Dugan told the kids there would be a special surprise. She offered clues to help them guess.

From a purple mystery box came the letter B, a bicycle helmet and a book.

Just at the right time, FCPL Communications Manager Samantha Jones pedaled the Book Bike under a Carroll Creek bridge. The children booed at the sight.

Jones stopped the bike and opened the cargo box, with help from Beth Heltebridle, the C. Burr Artz branch administrator. The trunk lid lifted and two doors opened on hinges. Built-in shelves held books and an interior chalkboard read “Hi!” with a smiling face.

Heltebridle said they will fill the Book Bike with materials they believe would be suitable for the audience they plan to visit.

The Book Bike will carry a laptop computer, so patrons can check documents or sign up for library cards. It also has a mobile hotspot that can provide free Wi-Fi within 50 feet of the bike.

The launch of Book Bike coincided with the National Library’s card registration month. An FCPL library card allows the user to access books, movies, magazines, audiobooks and more.

“It’s about increasing access,” Heltebridle said.

The Book Bike does not yet have a set route, but is expected to frequent festivals, events and underserved communities.

FCPL encourages residents to follow the library on Facebook for updates.

When the Book Bike reached the crowd gathered on Carroll Creek, 21-month-old Jack Hopley of Frederick approached. Her mother, Jennifer Hopley, said they often attend story time at the library and didn’t realize there would be a special surprise that day.

Cheri Riley and Danni Sheron brought their kids to story time. Riley already had a book in mind to discover.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Riley said. “Not everyone can go to the library.”

Sheron gave the Book Bike a “10 out of 10” review. She would like to see more bikes like this.

As a children’s librarian, Dugan said the bike should be a visual attraction for young people.

“It’s another wonderful way the library can come to you,” Dugan said.

About Shirley L. Kreger

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