Rowan Public Library expands outreach with Book Bike

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2023

SALISBURY — This summer, Rowan Public Library’s new book bike will take to the streets — or, rather, the sidewalks.

“It’s a fun way to expand outreach into the community,” said Director Melissa Oleen, who wrote the grant application that resulted in this new engagement tool. “What’s better than a book bike?”

The bike supports one of RPL’s strategic goals, to feature lifelong learning and enrich lives by providing a unique, fun, engaging, and conversational way to provide library programming in informal settings and at community events where library patrons gather.

Custom-made by Icicle Tricycles, the book bike has the trappings of an everyday bike, plus a rechargeable motor. It features a special cabinet to transport books, program supplies or even a laptop to allow on-the-spot resource and technical assistance; it also accommodates an all-weather umbrella.

The book bike and its accoutrements, including safety gear and a cargo trailer for transportation, were purchased with a State Library of NC Bright Ideas Grant, which awarded RPL $9,900 in the summer of 2022.

For RPL staff, the book bike offers a novel way of meeting community members where they are, which can be a challenge at times. This solution is right in line with Bright Ideas Grants’ aim to inspire and galvanize libraries with an opportunity that will allow for the design and implementation of creative solutions and innovative ideas.

The book bike and its mobile laptop were used at RPL headquarters to promote and register participants for RPL Headquarters’ Summer Reading 2023 Kickoff, held on May 20 during Salisbury’s annual Cheerwine Festival.

“The book bike offered a different way to bring library materials to an event like the Cheerwine Festival,” said Young Adult Librarian Amanda Brill. “The bike will definitely give RPL the opportunity to venture out of the brick-and-mortar building and do more programs out in the community.”

The bike enjoyed its inaugural program debut on Saturday, June 17, as part of a group hike and food drive held at the Fred and Alice Stanback Educational Forest and Nature Preserve. Program coordinator and librarian David Lamanno rode the bike from RPL Headquarters, located at 201 Fisher St., to the meeting point on 11th Street in Spencer. Participants were encouraged to bring a canned good item for a local food bank.

“The book bike handled its journey from RPL Headquarters to the nature preserve really well,” reports Lamanno. “Seeing the book bike rolling down the street garnered some friendly waves from neighbors, and I’m excited to see it become a regular feature in programming.”

“We’re excited to see the book bike interact more with the community,” said Library Services Manager Laurie Lyda. “Ideally, it will not only increase customers’ access to library resources and materials, but it will become popular with nonprofit organizers who would like RPL’s presence at their events.” Lyda added for interested parties to email inquiries about the book bike’s community appearances to

The SLNC Bright Ideas Grant (NC-21-533) that funded RPL’s Book Bike Project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums.

“As pillars of our communities, libraries and museums bring people together by providing important programs, services and collections. These institutions are trusted spaces where people can learn, explore and grow,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “IMLS is proud to support their initiatives through our grants as they educate and enhance their communities.”