How the Book Bike Came to Be

Youth Services Librarian Allie perches with a book in hand atop the Book Bike seat. The bike, parked at the Middle School Vendor fair is a front-loaded cargo bike, open and overflowing with books on display.

Fairhaven's Millicent Library…on wheels? This is the story of how our Book Bike went from an unlikely idea to a street-worthy mobile library, cruising through a neighborhood near you! 

Inspiration struck when Joan Bisbee passed along an article that featured a librarian finding and repurposing an old cargo bike into a little rolling library. Living in the bikeable community of Fairhaven, the idea of a book bike seemed like a fun and eco-friendly way to connect with our residents outside of our building.

Surprisingly, my search for a suitable bike on Facebook Marketplace bore fruit. A retired cargo bike, previously used by ChopChop Magazine for kids and families, surfaced in a listing by its founder, Sally Sampson. Learning about our plans, Sally generously decided to donate the bike to us. We rented a trailer, eagerly arranged for a pick-up, and began the process of making it our own.



The bike was already equipped with a top-opening metal cargo container on wheels, a bike seat, and even a detachable blender powered by the rear tire (apparently, the magazine had used it to demonstrate blending smoothies - yum!). Excitedly, I envisioned adding a side opening door, interior shelving, and a fold-out desk equipped with a mobile hotspot and an ipad for circulation. However, lacking the expertise and tools, I sought help from the community and began asking around.

Enter Don Fredette, an Adaptive Equipment Specialist and all-around handyman with experience building Little Free Libraries around town. Don embraced our vision, generously donating his time and skills. Working out of his home shop with his son Jared, he helped turn our dreams into reality.



As spring arrived, our Book Bike neared completion. In the final stages of the redesign, I painted the bike and added signage reminiscent of our old Book Mobile. Despite being retired from service many years ago, the Book Mobile holds fond memories for many patrons that lived along its route, and looked forward to seeing it out and about town.

Since the summer of 2022, our Book Bike has been making appearances at local events like the Huttleston Farmer's Market, the Middle School Vendor Fair, and our Annual Kids Fest in collaboration with the Fairhaven Visitors Center. The bike has become a fantastic conversation starter and a nostalgic nod to our history.


We've even put the detachable blender to good use, though not for smoothies just yet! It's proven handy for blending up paper for homemade seed bombs, which helped us celebrate Earth Day in a unique and memorable way.

Looking ahead, we are eager to collaborate with our local cycling group, visit the Huttleston Marketplace, host outdoor storytimes at the nearby COA park at the beach, and engage with the community at the Recreation Center's playground during their summer programming. The bike has opened doors to connecting with people where they are; checking out books, creating memorable conversations and fostering a sense of community.

The only challenge? The bike's weight when loaded with books makes longer journeys a bit too strenuous for this librarian! To overcome this, I'm contemplating electrifying the bike – dreaming of a Book Ebike in our future. Will that aspiration eventually take shape and get traction? Time will tell, but as this project has taught me, if you have an idea, a bit of luck, and most importantly, the support of your community, you won’t be left spinning your wheels for long!

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who contributed their time and resources to make our rolling library a success. Here's to a pedal-powered, people-powered future.