New Reading Bike Offers Fun Way to Expand Cedar Falls Public Library’s Reach | New Policies
CEDAR FALLS — A brand new community outreach tool arrived at the Cedar Falls Public Library in late January.
The unique device is a three-wheeled “book-bike”. It comes with a rear seat for the rider and a rear wheel, like a typical bicycle. But at the front is a large storage cabinet for books, supported by two wheels on either side of it.
The focus will be on learning about the challenges African Americans face when trying to uncover their roots, in honor of Black History Month.
Once the weather warms up, the bike will travel to events carrying 200-250 books that people can check out with their library card.
No launch event is planned for the moment to introduce the bike to the community. But he will make appearances at children’s and adult parties. One example is its story hours in the parks, which typically attract around 100 children per session.
The image of an open book, along with the slogan “Great Communities Deserve Great Libraries”, are printed on all sides of the silver book storage unit.
“We’re the first here to have one,” said library director Kelly Stern. “We’re thrilled to have it, so come check it out.”
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For a better view of the book-bike, it can be found parked in the lobby of the library with a large teddy bear sitting in the driver’s seat.
The library purchased the bike to remove another barrier to books and improve access for residents who cannot get to the Main Street library, for example, due to physical limitation or lack of a vehicle.
The library had its eye on the fun tool and used a $5,000 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant from the State Library of Iowa to get it to Cedar Falls as soon as possible.
In addition to the book storage unit, which is shaped like a box, the bike has a number of other features.
It has electric pedal assistance, a bell and a rear rack to attach a backpack or sports bag. Once the front storage unit is fully opened, a person will see a wrap-around shelf inside.
A blackboard and a small folding table also become available, and on the side there is an accessory capable of hoisting a large umbrella for sunny days.
The library also plans to use the bike to deliver new library cards to anyone who needs them.
Although the bike may seem easy to ride, the library will have a designated operator trained to ride it at events not too far from the library. It is not a tool that can be “consulted” like a book or other library resource.
For those thinking, why doesn’t the library have a “mobile book?” – Stern said it’s been on her wish list since she became director in 2019, but right now it’s not feasible due to the annual costs, like maintenance, associated with it.