bikes

Cycling for Libraries 2013 – Day 2

Day 2 we cycled 53 miles from Amsterdam to The Hague. It was a beautiful ride along the coast through the dunes. Photo by Eeva Rita-Kasari

The first library visit of the day was in Haarlem at the railway station. The library is open during the busiest times at the station and is single staffed. The focus is on current best sellers and quick turnaround with self-checkout. You can grab a book and still catch your train. The library also has a little coffee machine. This library is just the first of ten station locations to be opened in the Netherlands in the coming years. Next stop was a public library in Noordwijk. This library serves the community and the 2 schools neighboring schools. The library is only open to the public 26 hours per week, but it stays open for the schools' use. Students are actually trained as library assistants to help their classmates.

This library is where we learned about the common logo for all the Netherlands libraries. This saves a ton of money on promotional items and creates excellent brand recognition for all libraries. At many of the public libraries in Holland we also heard them mention the "public living room." The spaces have coffee shops and some have bars and they all offer lots of comfortable seating -- all designed to allow users to stay longer and really enjoy their time at the public library

Day 2 Video

Cycling for Libraries 2013 – Day 1

Cyc4Lib2013

Another Cycling for Libraries trip under my belt and this one was tough! The libraries were awesome but the weather was terrible. This year the Amsterdam to  Brussels route was shorter than last year but it was more difficult thanks to the rain and wind. The 2013 ride was made up of 120 librarians from 20+ countries. I saw many of the friends I made last year from the Baltics trip and made a ton of new friends. I had another amazing experience. Hope you will follow along with the diary, photos, and videos from the trip. The library visits actually started as soon as I landed in Amsterdam. Schiphol Airport has a library in the International terminal. It features travel books on the Netherlands and books by Dutch authors. It is actually the only place where you can download Dutch music for free. Great way for publishers to introduce Dutch works to a captive audience. The library has computers and a lot of comfortable seating since many travelers use this as a lounge and hang out for hours. I love how the art walls make it look like home.

Day 1 - Amsterdam The first day we met at the Open Bare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (OBA). What an incredible way to start off the trip. This is the largest public library in the Netherlands. It has 7 floors of open, creative, inviting space. The building contains a cafeteria, and a restaurant. There are 500 computers and 1000 seats for study.

The next stop was the Institute of Tropics Library - KIT. This gorgeous old library contains a collection of Holland's cultural heritage with the oldest book from 1652. The staff has digitized much of the collection and they also work with African countries to create open repositories. Unfortunately, as were hear too often, funding was cut completely and the library would soon close. At the end of the trip we learned the great news that funding had been restored and the library would remain intact. I can only hope that Cycling for Libraries will continue their advocacy for libraries and the importance of information in the everyday lives of citizens.

To end the day we had kick-off party sponsored by the University of Amsterdam. It was a wonderful way to send us off on this journey of discovery.

Day 1 Video

Cycling for Libraries Day 10-11: Last Days on the Road

Day 10 - 47 miles

Rakvere Library

We began the day by touring the delightful Rakvere Public Library. In the photo above you can see Katarina Jee, Estonia's only bookmobile, parked next to the library.

The Katarina Jee is part of the Tallinn Public Library system, and she followed us throughout our journey from Vilnius to Tallinn. We had many fun events that involved Katarina Jee, including this fantastic performance of a folk song performed by Estonian school librarians.

Later that day we cycled to the Palmse Korts, an amazing restaurant that is on the grounds of one of Estonia's manor house. We had a very tasty meal that included some of the best pork we've ever eaten.

Palms Korts

Day 11 - 49 miles

The last day had finally arrived. It was a long ride in a headwind and took forever. I think we were just getting excited to be in Tallinn and to reach the our final destination. When we had lunch at the half way mark, it felt like we had already been riding for the entire day. We had been on the  highway and then took a detour through the forest. When we stopped for lunch we understood why we had taken this route, we walked past the lunch tent to discover this amazing waterfall! What a wonderful surprise and beautiful backdrop to our last lunch on the road.

Estonian Waterfall

To pass the time on the long, hard last day. We belted out the hits of the 70s, 80s, and today. We definitely entertained ourselves and our captive audience seemed to enjoy the musical styling of the Texas Girls (the name of our new coverband!). When we hit the city limits of Tallinn we were so excited. Our trip into the center of town was along the coast and we had this incredible view of Old Town. Cycling by the ocean is pretty, but the wind was blowing so hard we had to concentrate on not blowing over.

View of Old Town from Tallinn Coast

We cycled through the cobble stoned streets and were greeted for the last time by the smiles, waves, and cheers of the Estonian people. When we got to Freedom Square, we jumped off our bikes and hugged and congratulated everyone. We had done it! We cycled a total of 366 miles over 11 days. We met the most incredible librarians from around the world and we were changed by the international experience off a lifetime. Where are we going next year?

Celebration in Freedom Square

By April Kessler and Karen Holt of Librarian Lifestyle. April & Karen are librarians at the University of Texas at Austin.

Cycling for Libraries - Day 2 & 3

Day 2 - 23 miles cycled After the fist day and and a whirlwind of library tours, day 2 was double the cycling and only one library visit. The 23 miles seemed more difficult, because it was unseasonably warm in Lithuania. That day we got our first glimpse of the types of cycling we were in for - mountain bike trails and hills. Along the route we were surprised and thrilled to be supported by members of the Lithuanian Library Association. The group wore bright green t-shirts and followed us in cars along the route and honked and waved and met us at our destination in Trakai. Their support made a huge difference  long, hot ride.

After lunch we had one of our first cultural visits when we visited the beautiful castle on the lake in the picturesque vacation town of Trakai.

When the castle tour was over we loaded our bikes on a truck and filled up two buses with librarians for a 4-hour ride into Latvia.

During the bus ride we got to meet more of colleagues when we had discussions about our library careers and future plans. We arrived in Riga a few hours late so we skipped the showers and jumped on a train into the city for a traditional Latvian dinner.

Day 3 - 13.5 miles

On day 3 we had another police escort through the city of Riga. This was the first time we saw what kind of press was following the tour. It reminded us first hand that one of the goals of Cycling for Libraries is to bring awareness to libraries and library services. That morning we were interviewed by the Latvian news as were waiting for the Latvian Minister of Culture to meet our group.

The backdrop for the interviews was the construction site National Library of Latvia which opens next year.

Even though Day 3 was spent in the city of Riga, we had a packed day. After meeting with the mayor, we cycled through the city to a charming public library. There is nothing quite like cycling through a city with a police escort. All of the streets were open to us and it felt like being in a parade. We greeted many curious passerbys with rings of our bells and shouts of hello.

Following the ride in the city and a tour of the Turiba University Business Library, we turned our thoughts to current library issues, namely librarians and entrepreneurship. We gave a very brief talk about the way libraries could foster entrepreneurship among staff. Åke Nygren followed us with a very interesting talk about his work and his powerful ideas on libraries and entrepreneurship.

We capped the evening by taking a Riga tour of our choice. On offer were tours of a bike shop, an adventure tour, the Art Nouveau tour, and a craft/maker evening. Being an architecture lover, Karen choose the Art Noveau tour, which featured a fascinating personalized tour of the Art Nouveau architecture in Riga and the beautiful Art Nouveau Museum. (Highly recommend for anyone traveling to Riga.)

Then, it was off to bed to prepare for our longest day of cycling.

Day 2 & 3 Videos

By Karen Holt of Librarian Lifestyle and April Kessler. April and Karen are librarians at the University of Texas at Austin and had an amazing time at Cycling for Libraries.