Cycling for Libraries Day 7-9: From Mountain Retreats to the City

Day 7 - 30 miles We left the mountain trails for actual mountains during the next stretch of the trip. This part of Estonia is called the Switzerland of the Baltics and now we know why. We cycled in the same spot the Russians send their Olympic skiers to train in the summer! The ride to Otepää was actually pretty short but the climbs were incredibly difficult. If you could get some momentum from the down hill, you could make up the next hill a little easier. That meant we were doing some serious flying downhill. Very fun, but kinda scary too. We visited just one local library, and then stopped early for the day at the mountain ski resort for some much needed R&R. We had a dip in the lake, a sweat in the sauna, and a soak in the hot tub. Just what our worn out bodies needed.

The sauna in Otepää

Day 8 - 55 miles

We call this part of the ride the highway to hell. We were actually on the way to the lovely Tartu and the scenery around us was gorgeous, but it was difficult and scary to ride single file along a busy highway. Because we could not talk to our peers, we realized how much we appreciated the library discussions that keep our minds busy and buzzing.

We stopped in the little town of Elva to tour their beautiful library.

This is also where Karen's bike got arrested.

We also visited a little public library in Ülenurme, which is on the outskirts of Tartu. They had charming little nooks in their library where you could visit with friends.

Once we arrived at some very nice dorms in Tartu, we cleaned ourselves up and met as a group for a discussion on library issues like marketing and publishing. It was very interesting to learn more about how libraries in other countries tackle issues like eBooks. We have so much in common, but when the topic turned to copyright we learned so much about we differ as well. We take the concept of Interlibrary Loan for granted in the States, but it is not the norm in Europe.

That evening we were free to explore the city of Tartu on our own and we went to the seriously amazing Italian restaurant, La Dolce Vita, which we would highly recommend to anyone traveling to Tartu. Thanks to our new Cycling for Libraries friend, Eve, for the recommendation!

Eve & April in the Ülenurme Public Library

Day 9 - 10 miles

This day involved very little biking. We spent the morning and afternoon in Tartu. We rode by Tartu University Library, the oldest and largest research library in Estonia. Then, after meeting the mayor and riding with him to the Tartu Public Library, we had a discussion about book publishing by libraries in Finland and Estonia. The Tallinn Public Library works with a local author to publish a book each year and then every 2nd grade student in Tallinn gets their own copy. The catch is that this book isn't for sale. It is only available from the library. Of course this limited printing makes it quite special for the country. All the kids and teachers are trying to get their hands on this hot commodity!

The discussion was followed by a special session on erBooks. Because libraries in Estonia can't buy eBooks, the Tartu Public Library has partnered with the Estonian Literary Museum to convert print books in eBooks, and one of the leaders of this project gave a very interesting demonstration for us on how they convert the books into a digital format.


Mural in the Tartu Central Library.

Next, we took a bus ride to Rakvere. That evening we went to the historic castle ruins, which featured a reenactment of castle life.

And then we had a lovely dinner and danced to a local rock band. Like we always say, there's no party like a librarian party.