When Verona Public Library employees hop on their new electric bike pulling an orange trailer full of paperback books out into the community, they’re “taking a piece of the library” with them.
The library is debuting a new book bike this summer, with the goal of bringing books into the community by physically coming to residents.
The book bike consists of a 3-foot long trailer that has fold-out doors that can hold up to 100 paperback books – not hardcover, community engagement librarian Marissa Gehrke said, because it would be too heavy to be able to pedal up a hill. People are able to check out the books as if they were at the library.
“They’re kind of a trend in libraries right now,” she said.
The book bike was funded through a grant from Epic and the Friends of the Verona Public Library.
The original company the library planned on purchasing the trailer from went out of business, Gehrke said, so they selected a different manufacturer – Pedal Positive out of Engelwood, Colo. – and had reference librarian Mark Cullen design the trailer for the library’s needs, since Pedal Positive didn’t have a model that exactly fit what the Verona library was looking for.
On the recommendation from the Eau Claire library, which Verona modeled its own bike after, the rollout of the service will be a little bit slow, Gehrke said. There aren’t any regular routes for the book bike yet, but librarians will be making appearances with it at the Verona Artists and Farmers Market in June, Music on Main, a Badger Prairie Needs Network event in July and a senior center fundraiser later this summer.
The books selected to go into the trailer are based off the type of event the library is making an appearance at, Gehrke explained.
When they went to the Cinco de Mayo festival last month, the trailer was filled with books geared toward younger children, with a variety of picture books and “early readers” because of the family-friendly nature of the festival, Gehrke explained.
The librarians always try to take a cast of “favorite characters” with them in the bike as well.
“Gotta have your Pete the Cat and Dogman with you at all times,” she said.
Gehrke said that in addition to having books in English, there will also be books in Spanish as a way of being inclusive to everyone that the Verona Public Library serves.
“Part of the point of the book bike is making sure that we’re taking books out into the community for everyone and making sure everyone who lives in the Verona area feels welcome to use library resources, no matter what language they speak at home,” she said. “And so many kids are in the two-way immersion program, so it’s just making sure we’re serving those kids, too.”