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Get on your bike and ride!

Libraries in Indiana and Michigan are using bicycles in unique ways. The Putnam County Public Library, in partnership with the DePauw University Office for Sustainability, both in Greencastle, Indiana, is loaning bicycles to patrons. The Traverse Area District Library in Traverse City, Michigan in partnership with Norte! Youth Cycling, has a “pedal-powered” library.

Putnam County Public Library

DePauw University’s Office of Sustainability offers a Community Bike Program to students and residents of Greencastle, Indiana. Since 2012, the university has loaned the bikes from the Inn at DePauw. According to Library Director Grier Carson, when they were approached by DePauw about participating in the program, they “jumped at the chance and coordinated with them on acquiring four bikes for library lending.” DePauw purchased the bikes and is lending them to the Putnam County Public Library. The bikes are locked up outside the library on a community bike rack so that they are displayed and promoted, but also fairly secure and easily accessible. The bikes are loaned for 2 days with no holds or reserves, and although the library does not require a deposit, there is a late fee associated with the bikes, just like any other item. Carson says, “For bikes, we charge $4/day overdue fee.”

4 bicyclists with their bikes in front of the Putname County Public Library

Community partners from DePauw and other organizations in front of Putnam County Public Library

According to Carson, the Library is trying to accomplish 3 things with the bike program:

  1. Bring something unique to the library experience for patrons (bet you didn’t think you could check out BIKES at your local library!)
  2. Provide free sustainable alternative transportation for local residents, many of whom do not own bikes or have access to them.
  3. Participate in the community’s ongoing efforts to beautify and energize the downtown Greencastle experience.

Carson says the bikes have been incredibly well-received. “Many patrons check them out on a regular basis, but just having them available has generated a lot of conversation about what the library is all about.”

Traverse Area District Library

A book from the commuting library

TADL’s Commuting Library

The Traverse Area District Library has teamed up with Norte! Youth Cycling to bring the first pedal-powered library to Traverse City. According the library’s website, the “Commuting Library” is stocked with bestsellers and a rotating collection of books tailored to the bike’s location.

The Commuting Library also has a mobile WiFi hot spot, which librarians  use with a tablet device to show visitors how to access TADL digital offerings including e-books. Visitors are also able to check out books and register for library cards at the bike.

The TADL Commuting Library has received quite a bit of attention in the press. The following articles provide more details on this exciting project: