Bicycle Book Mobile

Bicycle Book Mobile, Los Gatos Library

I love finding things in the library that aren’t books, media, or web pages. Today I found the Los Gatos library’s “Chartreuse Caboose.”

It’s built with a great deal of rigid materials — I am more used to bike trailers with fabric body panels or even duffel bags strapped to a frame. However, this trailer needed to be more robust since it’s meant to haul lots of heavy books, and it also contains a WiFi hotspot. (The trailer is also a library card issuing center so it needs to be connected anyway.) A hefty, locally sourced electric assist bicycle is the prime mover for the bookmobile; Los Gatos has just enough steep hills to make hauling such a loaded trailer like this a pain without the electric help.

For extra fun for librarians, here’s the Los Gatos Library’s grant proposal to the Pacific Library Partnership. You’ll notice the care taken in showing what other sources of funding would be applied. (The grant would cover the high-end hauler, helmets, WiFi hotspot, bike tools and staff time for a year.) The custom trailer was funded by the Friends of the Los Gatos Library (whose book sales room is larger than many libraries). Further, the grant notes what resources the library already has for this project. For example, some library staff can ride their own bikes to support Chartreuse Caboose deployments, which makes better economic sense than trying to purchase (and park) an electric assist tandem.

There’s a trend in the San Francisco Bay Area for bike-based bookmobiles. Library systems for Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz County and San Francisco have adopted them recently. If your library has nearby places to visit and scant parking space, it might be something to look into.

Thanks to Robert in San Diego for this guest equipment review!

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