OK, I’m a little late stumbling upon this, and so perhaps you’ve already seen it. For those who haven’t, there’s a great article in the October 19th edition of the New York Times about a teacher from La Gloria, Columbia, named Luis Soriano, who brings books to remote villages using two donkeys. He calls the service “Biblioburro.”
This got me thinking: how cool would it be to mobilize a biblio-cycle program that worked with volunteers, the local library, and perhaps even booksellers to bring not only books but literacy training to poor neighborhoods or rural communities? Similarly, why not partner with a local bike shop to organize a bike-mobile: a rolling bike repair shop on two wheels (plus trailer) that makes minor repairs and hosts fix-it-up clinics in poor neighborhoods? All things considered, why not do both?
It seems to me that library bookmobiles are becoming quite rare, and it’s not difficult to imagine why. Biblio-cycles could be operated for next to nothing, especially once the upfront costs were out of the way. And while size and space may prevent them from offering the selection that a full-scale bookmobile would offer, they could cover much more ground, help with collecting books-to-be-returned, and extend library offerings such as children’s story hours and book discussion groups.
And as for the bike-mobiles, I think they would have the power to attract a greater number of casual riders, not-yet-riders, and curious bystanders by virtue of being visually interesting. Moreover (and perhaps more importantly), they capitalize on the community dimension of bicycles and cycling by pulling up close to where people are and attracting a crowd. Most important of all, they would provide a generous and much needed service to those most likely to be using poor quality or beaten down bikes for regular transportation.