Pedaling literacy – literally: Berkshire Athenaeum rolls out new book bike

Library Director Alex Reczkowski gets excited about riding the Berkshire Athenaeum's new book bike at the library in Pittsfield. The bike will be available to the public during Third Thursdays and other special events this season.

Library Director Alex Reczkowski gets excited about riding the Berkshire Athenaeum’s new book bike at the library in Pittsfield. The bike will be available to the public during Third Thursdays and other special events this season.

STEPHANIE ZOLLSHAN – THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE

Outreach Librarian Alex Geller sits atop the Berkshire Athenaeum's new book bike at the library in Pittsfield. The bike, and Geller, will be available to the public during Third Thursdays and other special events this season.

Outreach Librarian Alex Geller sits atop the Berkshire Athenaeum’s new book bike at the library in Pittsfield. The bike, and Geller, will be available to the public during Third Thursdays and other special events this season.

STEPHANIE ZOLLSHAN – THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE

By Patricia LeBoeuf, The Berkshire Eagle PITTSFIELD — A mobile library, once a thing of the past in the city, has been reborn in the form of a book bike. The Berkshire Athenaeum’s new book bike, a twist on the more traditional bookmobile, will enable the library to bring its collection to the community.

The library’s new literary vehicle, supplied by Haley Tricycles of Philadelphia, Pa., carries a compact front box that can hold up to 260 pounds of books and materials, despite being narrow enough to easily fit through a 36-inch-wide door. “I think it’s a wonderful idea,” said Hugh Black, a retired librarian, who saw the bike at its unveiling Wednesday at the library as part of National Library Week. A library staff member told Black about the book bike while he was getting help with his Kindle.

“I used to say, instead of an ice cream truck, we should have a book truck,” Black said. “This is the next best thing.” The bike will be featured at 3rd Thursdays on North Street in Pittsfield starting in May, along with some special events like the city’s 4th of July Parade. The library is also committing to bringing the bike to one farmers market in the city a month, to start.

The Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market market takes place Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The First Street Common. “It’s our first year, so we’re trying to start off small,” Alex Reczkowski, library director, previously told the Eagle. The Athenaeum had a mobile library years ago, but that hasn’t been available for a long time, Reczkowski said.

The point of the bike is to bring the library’s services beyond its walls, Outreach Librarian Alex Geller said of his idea to have a book bike at the library. Geller will be manning the bike when it goes out into the community. He’ll sign people up for library cards and help them check out materials, including seeds from the library’s Berkshire Seed Library.

He’ll also carry Wi-Fi capability, which people can access for free. The library hopes to bring its collection to the Morningside and West Side neighborhoods in the future. Both community schools in these neighborhoods had branches of the library in the 1970s, but those branches closed in the 1980s, Reczkowski said.

“I think it’s going to be a nice convenience for people,” said Steve O’Neill, who works in maintenance at the library. O’Neill put the bike together in a project that took about eight hours over the course of a couple days. It’s a three-speed bike, which makes it easier to go up inclines, especially while carrying a load of materials, he said.

“It’s so much fun to ride,” Geller said. Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at [email protected], at @BE_pleboeuf on Twitter and 413-496-6247. If you’d like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us[1].

We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form[2] and submitting it to the newsroom.

References

  1. ^ email us (www.berkshireeagle.com)
  2. ^ filling out our letters form (docs.google.com)

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