High River will bring the library outdoors with new book bike

If you can’t go to the library, let the library come to you.

High River will soon do just that, with the purchase of a book bike that will bring library services outdoors to the community. 

“It’s a low cost way, in a sense, of having a bookmobile and serving other portions of the community, encouraging being outdoors, mental health, physical health, all those sorts of things,” said Mary Zazelenchuk, director of the High River Library. “I think a library certainly has a role in helping to build an active, healthy, informed community.”

Zazelenchuk said the idea came about before the pandemic, but it’s become more appealing as a way to have a physically distanced library.

“Libraries do act as sort of a social gathering point, and right now the buildings are less hospitable than they have been in the sense that we’re asking people to limit their visits and spend less time … we can meet in a park and have a whole bunch of people spread out but still able to access library services and borrow library materials.”

Other Alberta municipalities like Camrose and Red Deer have purchased book bikes as well.

The purchase of the electric cargo bike was funded by the town’s Emotional Safe Spot program.

It will have a scanner and tablet, books, and other library materials from games to supplies for storytime, depending on the program being run that day.

“So we could go out to, say, a local park and have some sort of physical activity class, or storytime, or any sort of outdoor activities. And obviously we can sign people up for library cards while they’re there,” she said.

The High River Library’s book bike will allow the library to bring storytime and other programming to local parks. (Submitted by Mary Zazelenchuk)

“And I think, you know, it’s a way of connecting with people in the community in an approachable way, so people who don’t necessarily have access to the building or who may never enter the library in the first place, aren’t intimidated or discouraged from approaching somebody on a bike with a cool logo stuffed with books.”

The bike was delivered by Calgary company BikeBike on Aug. 26. 

Zazelenchuk said the library may try some test runs in the fall, and its anticipated the bike will go into full service next spring, with an online schedule showing where it will be on any given day.

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