Current Weather
The Spy FM

‘Books On Bikes’ Helps Seattle Librarians Pedal To The Masses

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
August 11, 2013

By the loading dock of Seattle’s downtown library, librarian Jared Mills checks his tire pressure, secures his iPads and locks down about 100 books to an aluminum trailer the size of a steamer trunk. The scene is reminiscent of something you’d see in an action movie, when the hero is gearing up for a big fight, but Mills is gearing up for something very different.

“If you’re not prepared and don’t have a lot of experience hauling a trailer, it can be kind of dangerous,” Mills says, especially when you’re going downhill. “The trailer can hold up to 500 pounds.”

Mills is part of Seattle Public Library’s Books on Bikes program, which aims to keep the library nimble and relevant by sending librarians and their bicycles to popular community events around Seattle.

After a hilly, five-mile bike ride to a local farmers market, Mills sets up shop among the fruit and vegetable booths. The bright orange trailer is custom made with bookshelves and an umbrella holder (it is Seattle, after all).

Malena Harrang is visiting the market with a friend. She says Mills’ book station is “like [a] carbon-neutral library on wheels — doesn’t get better than that.”

Harrang and her friend are in their early 20s, precisely the crowd Mills is trying to attract.

“It’s a really great way to tap into communities that feel they’re not being served,” he says, “and also, you know, a lot of millennials that traditionally may not be coming into our branches.”

And while he could have packed all his books into a car, Mills says wanted to appeal to Seattle’s bike culture.

“This is like the upgrade of the bookmobile,” says Susan Clements, who’s visiting the market with Barbara Clements. Both say they’re drawn to edgier fiction, but Susan doesn’t have a library card.

Mills taps around on his iPad and moments later Susan is officially a library patron.

“It’s just nice to have books in circulation, easy to get to,” Barbara says. “It’s not a special thing, it’s just like, hey, here’s part of your day, like your lettuce or your ice cream.”

Books on Bikes is just a pilot project, but Mills hopes that someday it will be a more permanent part of what librarians do.

“Sometimes you’re answering reference questions in the building and sometimes you’re on a bike,” he says. “I would like to be part of ushering in this new era of librarianship that’s just a lot more mobile and agile and really responsive to the community and the needs.”

One thing Mills won’t do, though, is take book returns — he’d rather not lug them back up the hill. [Copyright 2013 KPLU-FM]

Leave a Reply

2PM to 3PM PRI's The World

PRI's The World

Get a fresh perspective of people, events and trends that shape our world. Host Lisa Mullins covers a wide range of topics, including science, business, technology, sports, art and music.

Listen Live Now!

3PM to 6PM All Things Considered

All Things Considered

For two hours every weekday, All Things Considered hosts Robert Siegel, Michele Norris and Melissa Block present the program's trademark mix of news, interviews, commentaries, reviews, and offbeat features.

View the program guide!

6PM to 6:30PM Marketplace

Marketplace

Hosted by Kai Ryssdal, award-winning Marketplace is public radio's daily magazine of business and economics.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center