After over a year of planning and unexpected setbacks, a few months ago we finally got our book bike, Unbound: sin fronteras! It turned into two builds, actually:
No. 1 is a front-end unit on an attached bike created by Haley Trikes in Philadelphia. They’ve done a handful of library bikes now and got it down to a (library) science. No. 2 is a custom trailer to attach to a personal bike made by Austin builder Saila Bicycles. Both have ample room to hold books and materials, plus a laptop, wifi puck and all the swag you can stand.
Each has its idiosyncrasies but nothing unmanageable. The trike is slow going but steady (winning ALL the races!) and the trailer is so smooth you almost forget it’s there… until you turn too tightly into a parked car. I haven’t crashed either yet. After making it down the hill of Guadalupe on the trike during rush hour without dying, I’m confident I can handle anything.
Administratively we’re still figuring things out—where to store it, how to streamline all the bits and most importantly, how to staff it. We have willing riders but staff shortages at the branches keep people on the desk instead of in the Austin wilds. This is understandable but still. Sad face. I’m fortunate to have more flexibility with my schedule.
So what do we do with it? Community outreach, of course! We’ve shown up at Movies in the Park, Books and Beer and random farmers markets. We tailor a mini-collection to the theme and vibe of the event and check out books and DVDs, sign up new members and demo the Virtual Library. Many who get their library cards from the bike are newcomers to the city. What an awesome introduction to the Austin Public Library.
I led the proposal team to get the project greenlighted then took a more passive role on the task force. I’m super impressed with and proud of the research and tireless diligence done by Conor Walker, Betsy Evans and Andrew Murphy, the chair and deputy co-chairs of the team, to make both builds happen.
Unbound: sin fronteras is a fun, fresh take on community engagement that will be enjoyed by Austinites—and us!—for years to come.