Author Topic: Libraries and Touring  (Read 2035 times)

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Offline jboyd

Libraries and Touring
« on: October 15, 2012, 03:44:20 am »
Do you use libraries while bicycle touring? We are two cycling librarians that have toured many areas of the United States, including the Blue Ridge Parkway, Colorado, Natchez Trace, and the Adirondacks. Often, the public library was an oasis of connectivity, information, and comfort.

We'd love to hear your stories about using public libraries while touring, past or present. Do you use them as places to relax, read a newspaper, or escape from the heat, rain, and/or cold? Do you ever stop in a library for additional information about the region? Do you use the computers to update a blog or check your email, particularly remote areas with poor or non-existent smart phone connectivity?

We are collecting stories for an article to be submitted to an American Library Association magazine. Give us a shout, or post something here if you have a story to tell. Many thanks in advance. John and Beth, two librarians on bikes, at johnbethbike@gmail.com.

Offline grandfatherbike

Re: Libraries and Touring
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2012, 10:34:28 am »
I have ridden GOBA for 10 years. GOBA stands for Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure.  It is a ride of 2000-3000 riders for a week with a couple of layover days.  If the layover days are hot or rainy riders flock to the local library. It's a sight to see riders sitting among the stacks reading, using WiFi or just relaxing. I don't have any specific stories but grateful for the hospitality shown to us by the local libraries. Perhaps if you visited the GOBA website and contacted the librarians of the towns visited on past rides you would find specific stories.
Grandfather Stoker

Offline tonythomson

Re: Libraries and Touring
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2012, 01:32:57 pm »
Hi, having done several tours in USA and coming from England, I find your public libraries just great for keeping in touch with family & friends. Checking my business emails, so can continue to tour and run my business is great.  I can update my web site. one of the bonuses is getting to talk to some o the local people including the librarians - lots of good info about the area.

Plus always nice and cool with a cold water tower.

So do I feel bad about using your facilities for free, not really because while touring I actually spend quite a lot of money in restaurants, hotels and local bike shops.

They are a great asset, thanks.
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline indyfabz

Re: Libraries and Touring
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2012, 01:59:15 pm »
I use libraries mostly to check and send email since I don't carry a computer or "smart" gadget. During a 10 day trip in MT last year we stopped at two public libraries. During Cycle Oregon this year we hit one public library. We would have hit a few more but they were closed on the days we were there. I do on-line research into businesses/services and sometimes ask librarians for local information. I have visited libraries on several other supported and unsupported tours, both long and short.

If there is a donation jar, I always leave something.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Libraries and Touring
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2012, 05:14:15 pm »
The library in the suburb next to me is useless for bicyclists.  You have to be a member and have your card to check onto the computers.  I suspect most libraries in the US work this way.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Libraries and Touring
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2012, 05:24:53 pm »
The library in the suburb next to me is useless for bicyclists.  You have to be a member and have your card to check onto the computers.  I suspect most libraries in the US work this way.
I have stopped at libraries in quite a few states and in some cases more than one jurisdiction within the state and always been given access to the computers.  Sometimes the standard procedure was to sign in with a library card, but they always had some alternate method for non residents.

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: Libraries and Touring
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2012, 06:35:29 pm »
My experience agrees with Pete's. Sometimes I would show an ID, and occasionally pay $1 - $2, which I was happy to do, but was never denied.

Fred

Offline DaveB

Re: Libraries and Touring
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2012, 07:42:10 pm »
I have ridden GOBA for 10 years. GOBA stands for Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure.  It is a ride of 2000-3000 riders for a week with a couple of layover days.  If the layover days are hot or rainy riders flock to the local library. It's a sight to see riders sitting among the stacks reading, using WiFi or just relaxing. I don't have any specific stories but grateful for the hospitality shown to us by the local libraries. Perhaps if you visited the GOBA website and contacted the librarians of the towns visited on past rides you would find specific stories.
I've also ridden GOBA (21 of them in fact) and my experience is the same as yours.  On hot or rainy days, the layover town's library would have a big collection of bikes parked outside and many riders inside enjoying the air conditioning, reading opportunity and web/e-mail access.

I've never come accross a library that demanded a local library card to use their computers but they often have a time limit of 15 to 30 minutes per session.

Offline Pilar

Re: Libraries and Touring
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2012, 09:11:52 pm »
Libraries are an integral part of my bike trips - that is the first thing I inquire about when coming to a new town.  "Where is your local library?" I ask.  It's woven into the schedule.  Since I have never had a cell phone, libraries connect the dots to communication for me. My mother once asked "Is this a bike tour or a library tour?"
 With that said, I have a fantastic story involving a tour, a library, a storm and a tree.... and potential death.  I rode across Wisconsin this year on the SAGBRAW tour and one our campsites was in the town of Baraboo.  It was like a dream come true.  We were camped right next to, or shall I say, on the lawn of the town's public library.  My friend and I set up our tents between the library and the river in a quaint park setting underneath a huge oak tree.  A little before 5 am we heard a terrible rumbling indicating a potential storm.  Not wanting to pack up a wet tent, quickly we were both up - tents down in record time - and the winds and storm were moving in FAST and FURIOUS.  We headed for the school gym (right next to the library) and stood in awe as nature gave us her best show.  It was over quickly, but there were many who weren't so fortunate to have taken down their tents and secure bikes and gear.  Tents were flattened, huge limbs were down and debris and gear was everywhere.  Slowly I walked back to where I'd left my bike (leaning up against the tree with my dry bag) and when I approached the very spot where I had been sleeping soundly not 15 minutes earlier, was an enormous limb that could have easily killed me (and I'm talking wicked witch house- landing- on -you -dead) had I been inside my tent.  My bike had a part of the limb through the back wheel and had mangled it - my helmet was under the limb debris with no damage!  (woo-hoo)  The skies cleared and we finished 60 miles to the next town - all the while thinking "we could have easily been very dead today" - while searching for the next library on the horizon. 

Offline nthabiseng

Re: Libraries and Touring
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2012, 11:52:02 am »
On our two long distance tours, this year and last, we have had the chance to frequent several public libraries.  Dave and I were never turned away from using the internet; only one time was the fee prohibitive for us ($5).  Usually it was free or a very minimal charge, and we always seemed to have plenty of time.  We used the internet for the typical reasons: checking email, updating the journal, searching for Warmshowers hosts in upcoming towns, or planning our departure at the trip's end by either plane or rental car.

But we have two special memories of library visits.  The first was on March 30, 2011 in the small, historic town of Washington, Louisiana. It was a cool and cloudy day, and had been a short riding day; we arrived in town by noon.  We headed for the library for the usual tasks since it had been a few days since we had checked email or updated the journal.  The library had just a few computers but being the middle of a weekday there weren't any other patrons.  The welcoming librarians directed us to the two that worked the best, but not before asking us the usual questions about our trip, which was crossing the US on the ACA Southern Tier route from west to east.  We were just finishing our work when one of the librarians returned from her lunch break; she beckoned us into the back room where she placed on the table a container of something that smelled great.  It was a delicious dish of shrimp creole from one of the town's best lunch spots, the Cafe Opera.  What a wonderful treat!

After enjoying the special lunch these kind librarians then helped us print and make copies of our absentee ballots so that we could prepare them for mailing that day. One of them told us to come back if we needed anything else after going to the post office.  And sure enough we did return for her to witness our signatures before rushing back to post them before we headed over to the campground where we had decided to stay.  We are so grateful to these terrific women who made our day in Washington, LA unforgettable.

Our second special library experience is a tidbit, but also memorable. On the same trip last year, in the town of Madison, Florida we stopped at the library shortly after lunch, but not for the usual reasons.  I had terrible stomach cramps, from overindulging in one of those Southern buffet lunches that we could never pass up. As I sat on the outdoor bench in pain, Dave rode to the nearby convenience store for some antacid.  He had gone inside to ask its whereabouts, and the caring librarian came out a couple of times to make sure I was ok.  During the half hour that I recuperated outside after his return; she kept making sure I was still ok while he used the library computers.  Soon afterward we were back on the road; I was pain-free and once again we were so appreciative of the kindness of librarians.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Libraries and Touring
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2012, 04:44:57 am »
Public libraries are always good for checking email and messaging. In all my tours, only one library in the US refused to let me check email because I was not a card carrying member, and that was in Port Isabel, Texas.