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Library system in Frederick County unveils Book Bike

"It's a library on a bike," children's librarian Robin Dugan said at the recent unveiling.
Credit: AP
Zeke Luff checks out the Frederick County Public Libraries Book Bike with this mother Jamie Luff, as FCPL’s Samantha Jones looks on, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022 in Frederick, Md. The Book Bike is designed to reach people who might not be able to come to a library branch in person. (Ric Dugan/The Frederick News-Post via AP)

FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. — Frederick County Public Libraries is bringing the library to patrons — on three wheels.

The Book Bike is designed to reach people who might not be able to come to a library branch in person.

"It's a library on a bike," children's librarian Robin Dugan said at the recent unveiling in Frederick.

The bicycle's bright orange cargo box, balanced between two front wheels, can carry up to 260 pounds, according to a FCPL news release.

It comes equipped with an electric boost to help the cyclist pedal heavy loads. The library staff estimates the Book Bike can hold 300 children's picture books or 120 adult fiction books.

The Maryland State Library's Library Service and Technology Act Grant funded the Book Bike.

The bike was revealed during children's story time at the Carroll Creek amphitheater. Youngsters bounced in the laps of grown-ups as they listened to a bicycle-themed story.

Dugan told the children there would be a special surprise. She offered clues to help them guess.

Out of a purple mystery box came the letter B, a bicycle helmet and a book.

What could it mean?

Right on cue, FCPL Communications Manager Samantha Jones pedaled the Book Bike out from under a Carroll Creek bridge. Children oohed at the sight.

Jones brought the bike to a halt and opened the cargo box, with the help of Beth Heltebridle, the C. Burr Artz branch administrator. The cargo lid lifted off and two doors swung open on hinges. Built-in bookshelves held books, and an interior chalkboard read "Hi!" with a smiley face.

Heltebridle said they will fill the Book Bike with materials they think will suit the audience they plan to visit.

The Book Bike will carry a laptop, so patrons can check out materials or sign up for library cards. It also has a mobile hotspot that can deliver free Wi-Fi within 50 feet of the bicycle.

The Book Bike launch coincided with National Library Card Signup Month. A FCPL library card gives the user access to books, movies, magazines, audio books and more.

"It's all about increasing access," Heltebridle said.

The Book Bike does not have a set route yet, but is expected to frequent festivals, events and underserved communities.

FCPL encourages residents to follow the library on Facebook for updates.

When the Book Bike reached the crowd gathered on Carroll Creek, 21-month-old Jack Hopley, of Frederick, toddled right up to it. His mother, Jennifer Hopley, said they often attend story time at the library and did not realize there would be a special surprise that day.

Cheri Riley and Danni Sheron brought the children they nanny to story time. Riley already had a book in mind to check out.

"I think it's a wonderful idea," Riley said. "Not everybody can get to the library."

Sheron gave the Book Bike a "10 out of 10" review. She'd like to see more bicycles like it.

As a children's librarian, Dugan said the bicycle should be a visual attraction for youngsters.

"This is another wonderful way the library can come to you," Dugan said.

Watch Next: A look inside the newly renovated MLK Library

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