More bikes in libraries, please!!
Public libraries are a major hub for many communities. When I presented at the Australian National Walking and Cycling Conference in Adelaide in July, I suggested local libraries are an ideal location to integrate bicycles more into the daily community experience.
My approach was slightly subversive.
Instead of building massive expensive road transportation infrastructure to try and get more people cycling (Herculean effort!), smaller actions could be taken to ingratiate bicycles (not cycling) more into the everyday community experience. This kind of low-key familiarity and regular exposure to bikes would be ‘just part of the everyday experience’ for people. That is where I see bicycles become more socially accepted, especially by non-cycling people. This is where positive social change and greater community acceptance of bikes could be made.
So how can you start with libraries?
My suggestion was to decorate a series of bicycles in book genres. As an example I used my art bikes to help explain.
This is easily done. Decorate one bike as Romance, another with Cooking, another as Sci-Fi, Crime, Thriller….well…..you get the picture! Alternatively, you can use another theme, event or ‘International Day of the X’ ….or the library can come up with their own idea.
In any case, once decorated, each bike has a rack (bookshelf) hanging from it that offers books in the genre/theme.
There are add-on bonuses you can apply as well, like host a preceding community event to theme decorate the bikes.
As a case in point – I was delighted to see a variation of this suggestion already being enacted during the last fortnight as it was …
Australian Children’s Book Week 2017.
The last week in August was Australian Children’s Book Week 2017.
One of the winning books this year is called The Patchwork Bike by Van T. Rudd.
That means more bikes were in libraries! Woopee!
I was delighted to see a full bike related promotion featuring this event and The Patchwork Bike at my local library. This is what you saw as soon as you entered the main front door:
I love the bike and books – it is such a great combo.
It was a total coincidence that the children’s book Granny, Wait for Me! was featured on this blog in a recent post.
I saw some posters used by various Queensland schools promoting Children’s Book Week 2017 that also featured bicycles – this one is my special favourite as it also had a spunky redheaded rider (more redheaded bike riders, please!! See Ginger Rally here):
Some super progressive libraries have gone one step further.
At some rare University libraries, you can find reading bikes (below) where you can study and cycle. To date I have not seen these in any Australian libraries – if you have, please let me know!
These bike instalments have scientifically proven to significant positive impacts in learning/academic results, health outcomes and future livelihoods. A brilliant foray into this is the first chapter of John Matey’s book SPARK. It is an incredible read about how bicycles and exercise is having a significant impact on turning around the lives for hundreds of US students – especially those from low-socioeconomic schools. Awesome stuff!
Grab a copy of Spark from your local library – and ask them when they are installing a bike reading station while you are there!!
There are so many ways that bicycles can contribute and add value to readers, students and the general public.
Whether it is Children’s Book Week or not, it has been great to see bikes having a greater presence in libraries. It would be great to see bikes become a regular fixture within libraries, not just for special events.
I hope that there will be more creative and progressive integration of bicycles in more local, university and state libraries.
Until then – I have enjoyed seeing more bicycles being happily displayed in libraries to celebrate Children’s Book Week 2017.
Congrats to The Patchwork Bike for being one of this year’s winners!