September 14th, 2015

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Since 2013, 28-year-old librarian Alicia Tapia has been loading up her custom built bike trailer filled with books and pedaling it through the streets of San Francisco by bicycle. She stops in Golden Gate park and sets up a tiny library where she gives out the books to children and adults for free.

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Her pedal-powered library is called Bibliobicicleta and her mission is to spread the love of reading books and riding bikes. Tapia says, “Our goal is to get people to stop in the middle of their busy days to open a book and let their mind ease. An enthusiasm for books is highly contagious. We model reading for our children so that they can pass that on.”

We’re excited to be a part of Tapia’s movement through her current Kickstarter to raise funds for an electric bike that will allow her to extend the reach of Bibliobicicleta.

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Tapia and Bibliobicicleta are part of a growing movement. Bicycle bookmobiles pedaled by librarians are popping up all over the country. There seems to be a natural pairing in these two analog methods of exploring and seeing the world. Pedal powered librarian, Jared Mills of Seattle’s Books on Bikes mobile library program writes, “There is something about seeing a librarian on a bike that brings a smile to people’s face. It is amazing how a librarian can just sit down and start reading a book and kids will just flock.”

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Karen Green started Tucson’s Riding to Reading program with one bike and the a big dream. “My dream is really world domination by book bike, but I will start in Tucson,” says Green.

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Bike bookmobiles create the opportunity for community connection. Regardless of age, gender, income anyone can peruse and borrow a book from these libraries. With Bibliobicicleta, Tapia has never bought one of the books that she displays on her shelves. Anyone can donate a gently used or brand new one. “Often times someone will drop off a book and minutes later someone else will roll by and pick it up. Some times the book donator and the book borrower will meet and get to talk about why they love the book. It’s a really awesome thing to witness,” says Tapia.

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In addition to creating that opportunity for community connection, these bike bookmobiles also do the obvious, promote literacy. Says Tapia, “The first time I took it out, this little girl walked by and said, ‘That is the prettiest bookshelf I’ve ever seen.’ That made it all worthwhile. By seeing this crazy bookshelf, that kid is going to think that reading is something that’s important—reading is something cool.”

And it is.

Bibliobicicleta images courtesy of www.bibliobicicleta.com.

3 Responses to “Pedal-Powered Libraries”

    • Daniel Toman

      Hi Sally, we chatted with a few people from Ride for Reading yesterday at Interbike, seems like a great organization! Keep up the good work!

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