GALLIPOLIS — Bossard Memorial Library of Gallia County is offering up a new service for its patrons — a “Book-a-Bike” bicycle lending program.
Made possible by a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, awarded by the State Library of Ohio, this program, with an initial fleet of 10 bikes, will officially launch April 19 to library card holders.
“Bossard Library strives to meet the educational, recreational and entertainment needs of those in our community,” noted Debbie Saunders, library director. “The goals of this program are three-fold. Primarily, this program will provide patrons with the unique opportunity to borrow a bicycle for riding in town, particularly on Gallia County’s Rails to Trails bike path, which is accessible to patrons by following the Book-a-Bike signage from the library’s Spruce Street location to the bike path, just minutes away.
“Secondly, this program will provide patrons with opportunities to be educated on the importance of regular exercise for a healthy body and mind, as well as bicycle safety. Lastly, families can spend quality time together while enjoying a bike ride as they explore the great outdoors. When patrons visit the library to borrow a bike, we hope to see them borrow books as well.”
To borrow equipment, a user must have a good-standing Bossard Library card, be at least 18 years of age and complete a lending agreement. Bicycles may be borrowed for up to three hours at a time. No more than three bicycles may be borrowed on a patron’s card at any one time. All riders ages 18 and older must sign the lending agreement, regardless of whose library card is used to borrow the bicycles.
For library patrons younger than 18, a parent or legal guardian must complete and sign a consent form along with the lending agreement and must accompany the minor for the duration of the bike rental period. On the consent form, the parent or legal guardian may designate up to three responsible adults (such as grandparents) who may borrow a bike on behalf of the parent’s or legal guardian’s children. The designated responsible adult must accompany the minor child throughout the duration of the bike rental period.
Unless revoked, completed lending agreements and parental consent forms will be valid for a period of three months, at which time new lending agreements and parental consent forms must be completed.
Bicycles will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Minors (age 17 and younger) must supply their own bicycle helmet and are required to wear it throughout the lending period. The library recommends that riders of all ages wear padding, but padding is neither provided nor required by the library.
For adults ages 18 and older, bicycle helmets are recommended, but these are neither provided nor required to be worn. All bicycles must be returned before dark and at least a half-hour before the library’s closing. In the event that the borrower needs to contact the library during the lending period, the library phone number is on the bicycle.
Unreturned equipment will be considered theft and local law enforcement authorities will be notified and take appropriate action.
The borrowing patron will not be charged for normal wear and tear to the bicycle. The borrower will be charged the full replacement cost for lost or damaged items.
The library will maintain statistics on bicycle usage (including frequency of use, demographics of users, as well as bicycle mileage). In addition, the library will request that all first-time riders complete a voluntary user survey on the overall experience with the Book-a-Bike program.
According to Saunders, public library systems in both Athens and Meigs counties have successfully implemented similar bicycle lending programs. Bossard Library’s 2015 community needs survey indicated respondents’ interest in borrowing non-traditional items, such as musical instruments, puzzles and bicycles. Offering patrons the opportunity to borrow these type of items represents a growing trend among public libraries nationwide.
“The Book-a-Bike program truly embodies what it means to be an ‘active learner’ in one’s community,” Saunders said. “The library board and staff are excited to offer this fun, unique service to our community — a community whose support we greatly appreciate.”