June 12, 2013

Seattle Public Library launches Books on Bikes program


Seattle Books on Bikes librarians pose with their book trailer and the sign that reads “Your Library Without Limits!”

Eleven librarians at the Seattle Public Library make up the “Books on Bikes” team, a bicycle library pilot initiative which will visit local parks and events throughout the summer, including the Seattle Pride Parade, and cultural festivals including Umoja Fest and Fiestas Patrias.

The librarians will pull what they are calling a “full service library” on the back of a bike—a custom-built book trailer that will display books and store materials. The Books on Bikes librarians hope to encourage patrons to sign up for library cards, teach children and adults how to download books and magazines onto ereaders, and promote summer reading programs. Montlake Branch librarian Jared Mills, who created the program with fellow librarians, was quoted in Library Journal as saying “The only thing we can’t do is we can’t pay fines, and we’re not going to return your books.”

However, the traveling library will be a wi-fi hotspot, which will enable librarians to show and download digital library resources, as well as live-tweet from the road.

“Books on Bikes is green, sustainable, and represents the unique Seattle bike culture that people really love here,” Mills said. “The program shows how the library is really active, and really a part of the community, a part of the neighborhood, and we want to be where people are.”

The initiative cost just under $5,000 to put together, and the staff will be paid as part of the Seattle Public Library’s outreach budget. Success will be measured based on how many books are checked-out, how many people sign up for a library card, as well as how many book suggestions are given and reference questions answered.


Claire Kelley is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House.