The parking lot of Holy Trinity Church, between the church and East Lake Library, is populated with tents and tables piled high with vegetables, diapers, and nonperishable items. A queue of people snakes around the parking lot and onto the sidewalk, waiting patiently to pick up donated food and supplies for their families. And, at the end of the resource distribution line is the Hennepin County Library bike.
The Library Bike
Resources for Families in Need
The faces of children and parents quickly light up as the librarians joyfully exclaim, “Free books! Come get free books!”
Librarians Kelly, Hallie, and Amanda are staffing the bike today, giving out free children’s and young adult books to youth of all ages moving through the line. Families fill paper bags with needed food and other necessities before cautiously approaching the bike. Wary at first, the faces of children and parents quickly light up as the librarians joyfully exclaim, “Free books! Come get some free books!” Children and teens are soon exploring the bike’s mobile collection, finding perfect reads, and tucking them into their bags between the potatoes and carrots. One shy boy browses the titles, undecided. After a book about strange animals is suggested, his mother smiles and nods: “That’s the one.” Another girl stands on the tips of her toes in order to see the covers. She decidedly chooses a book about a hamster princess and skips away, the book held close to her chest.
The high demand for books is ongoing.
Delivering the Library’s Mission…On Wheels!
The library bike has allowed Hennepin County Library to be more mobile, flexible, and responsive to community needs, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood, temporarily taking root wherever it’s needed most. In 2020, the library bike powered by library staff has attended 43 events and engaged with more than 4,000 people. Children and teens took home 3,792 new or slightly used books and 910 playful learning kits (small bags with early literacy activities for families to do together.) In response to the pandemic and recent social unrest, library staff also distributed curated information about community resources, created new library cards, shared details about the library’s in-person Grab and Go Service, and offered more information about online resources available through the library.
The bike has now become a vital way for the library to deliver its mission.
A few years ago, donations from generous Friends funded this custom-built library bike. Initially an important means of library outreach, the bike has now become a vital way for the library to deliver its mission bringing learning, engagement, and joy to young people throughout the community. The smiles on the faces of children as they make their book selections show us just how important this service has become to instilling a love of reading in our next generation. Food is essential for fueling healthy bodies, and books from the library bike are essential for fueling hearts and minds. Thank you, Friends!