Book bikes expand library resources to Yolo County readers

A woman browses the selection at the Yolo County Library’s bike trailer during a July stop in Winters.
A woman browses the selection at the Yolo County Library’s bike trailer during a July stop in Winters. Yolo County Library

People drink beer on brew bikes in Sacramento and shop at a tricycle-based produce stand in West Sacramento. Now they can borrow books from bike libraries in Yolo County.

The novelty of anything on pedal-powered wheels has extended to literary lovers, as three new traveling libraries have begun rotating through the county to encourage reading and reach communities that lack borrowing access.

To kids, the bikes look like they could be selling ice cream – and they sound that way, too, with a bell that attracts curious families, according to Woodland Library Services Director Greta Galindo.

“At first, people might want to know if there’s ice cream,” Galindo said. “We don’t have ice cream, but we have books!”

The Woodland Public Library this month debuted two tricycles, which carry boxes filled with children’s books.

The Yolo County Public Library’s book bike consists of a 21-speed pulling a trailer with full library service capabilities, including the ability to sign people up for library cards, check out books and give people free WiFi, said Yolo County librarian Dana Christy. The library’s bike has signed up 37 people for new library cards, checked out 175 books and added 92 people to its summer reading program so far.

The Yolo bike also carries different types of books, depending on where it is stationed, and takes requests from the public.

“At an elementary school, we had books for kids and bilingual Spanish material, since many of the students spoke Spanish,” Christy said. “At a concert in the park, we brought music-related material for all ages.”

Galindo said she thinks the bikes attract more attention at community events and parks than a regular table would because it’s something people haven’t seen before.

The Woodland Public Library will distribute books at community events through its Books Inspiring Kids Everywhere, or BIKE, program. Until the Woodland library can develop a system that allows children to check out books like they would in a library, the bike will lend children books on an honor system. If children don’t return the books, they aren’t charged late fees, Galindo said.

“Our goal is to get books in the hands of children in our community who many not have a library card or come to the library,” she said. “They are able to learn about the library process, but they are not penalized if the book doesn’t get returned.”

The bike will also give free books away at its upcoming events, including at the Saturday farmers market in front of the library in Woodland.

Christy said the bike has been an improvement for the library, which didn’t previously have much outreach to the community. She said many people who don’t have transportation or who live in underserved communities, don’t get a chance to use the library’s services. Several people have said they’re thankful and felt a desire to read more when they encountered the bike, she said.

For instance, one woman at Eleanor Roosevelt Circle, a senior housing area in Davis, said she stopped reading since she lost access to transportation, Christy said. But now the woman said she will read more often since the bike is stationed at the circle each week.

To pay for the bike program, the Yolo County and Woodland public library systems won a combined $10,000 grant from the California State Library’s U.S. Institute of Museum & Library Services.

Yolo County Library’s book bike will be stationed at Eleanor Roosevelt Circle on Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and on every other Monday at the Cesar Chavez Co-Op at 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Alejandra Reyes-Velarde: 916-321-1005