Karen Schmidt hasn’t kept track of how many miles she and other volunteers have pedaled the West Bloomington Revitalization Project’s Book Bike over the past 11 years. She does estimate that many thousands of books have been given away during community events, parades, and the Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market each year. A new Book Bike will soon make its debut with a whole new look and a number of improvements intended to make this library-on-three-wheels easier to maneuver and to ride.
The first Book Bike (a combination “trike” and book display box) was acquired in 2011. It has only one speed, and is estimated to weigh well over 250 pounds. Enthusiastic donors covered the cost. Chris Koos of Vitesse Cycle Shop in Normal ordered the trike from Worksman Cycles; Unique Designs in Normal donated the custom-built box. The new one is about the 235 pounds, and comes with seven speeds and hand brakes, which should make the pedaling a lot easier. The new trike and the box were built by Icicle Tricycles in Portland, Oregon, a company Schmidt found through the Biking Librarians Facebook group. Most of the money for this purchase – about $4,000 – came through the generosity of the Bike Co-op based at WBRP, which added to fundraising led by Illinois Wesleyan University alumna, Olivia Jacobs, as a senior class project.
The new book bike will also sport a more distinctive look, including “revitalized” WBRP logos and color scheme, thanks to the work of local artist and WBRP Board member Bruce Clark. Schmidt is especially excited that, with Clark’s help, the Book Bike slogan, “Love your book. Love to read. Pass it on.” has been translated into several of the various languages spoken in the homes of District 87 students. The messages appear on the spines of books printed on the Book Bike box, along with the titles of other WBRP programs.
Look for the new WBRP Book Bike at the Farmers’ Market and neighborhood events in the coming weeks. Schmidt also looks forward to participating in the Juneteenth celebration, Cultural Festival, Labor Day parade, the Laborers' Annual Children’s Christmas Party, and other organization events. “This new bike should be easier to ride, so I hope to have additional volunteers to help give away even more books.”
For more information about the Book Bike, visit westbloomington.org/book-bike