Cycling For Libraries

Cycling for libraries is an independent international bicycle tour “unconference” for librarians and library lovers.

Cycling for libraries supports at its core international grassroots networking, the mental and physical well-being of library professionals, and the crucial role of libraries for society and intellectual and scientific education in general.

Being Bicycle based, Cycling For Libraries naturally supports ecological values and an environmentally friendly way of life.

Many key values are inherited from librarianship. Thise of liberalism, openness, lifelong learning, access to information and innovativeness.

Of course librarianship, like the bicycle, is also by it’s very nature humanist, internationalist, cross-boundary and hands-on.

Every year in several countries around the world library professionals gather together and cycle considerable distances stopping at libraries along the way on a cycling conference that lasts anywhere from a few days to a week.

In May 20102, a group of Finnish librarians launched the idea of organizing an alternative bicycle conference, known as an ‘unconference’ in order to network with with colleagues from all over Europe and collectively discuss the issues and challenges that libraries face.

Joined by other librarians of different nationalities, they decided to cycle the 70 km from Borås to Gothenburg in Sweden to attend the 76th conference of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions which was taking place there in the summer of 2010.

Based on their success, the organizers of this unconference by bike planned the first official edition of Cycling for libraries between Copenhagen and Berlin in the Summer of 2011, riding an adventurous 650 km in the process.

The following year in Summer 2012, a hundred participants met to cycle 600 km from Vilnius to Tallinn and in Summer 2013, a meeting of librarians and bibliophiles departed from Amsterdam to cycle to Brussels in 9 days.

As a result of these different cycling librarian get togethers, the International Association for Library Advocacy (IALA) was founded at the start of 2014 with the mission to organize further editions of Cycling for Libraries.

At the 80th IFLA Congress in Lyon in 2014, a French speaking branch of Cycling for Libraries was formed known as Cyclo-biblio. Later in the Summer nearly a hundred international librarians cycled from the coast in Montpellier to Lyon to promote libraries and their services in the areas they cycled through.

How it works

Cycling for libraries is an opportunity to meet colleagues from all over Europe to exchange ideas and discuss the promotion of libraries. It is also an opportunity for participants to develop their professional network and to strengthen their commitment as library advocates.

Equally important, Cycling for Libraries allows participants to visit local authority libraries, documentation centres and university libraries in the areas they cycle through, gaining more experience of different library environments.

These visits are done at the genial pace of a bicycle, which gives participants the time to chat with passers by and any other cyclists they may meet along the way.

With participants being both novice and experienced cyclists, each route is adapted and itineraries planned in conjunction with national cycling associations and in particular with the French association for the development of cycle routes and greenways for France.

You may have heard of the term “velorution” and in this case it can be applied to libraries as well – while a velorution is the movement aiming to promote the use of the bicycle as a mode of transportation, Cyclo-biblio takes this even further by using the bicycle as a mode of transportation to promote libraries and show how they are still revolutionary to societies today.

Previous Editions

DateDistanceRouteTheme
27 May – 7 June 2011650 kmCopenhagen – BerlinShifting traditions
28 July – 7 August 2012600 kmVilnius – TallinnRe-positioning libraries
18 – 26 June 2013220 kmAmsterdam – BrusselsInformation society skills and training / Rights
6 – 14 August 2014460 kmMontpellier – LyonLibraries “outside the walls
6 – 10 June 2015215 kmBasel – Strasbourg Libraries and the social link
1 – 10 September 2015675 kmOslo – Aarhus Makerspaces / New buildings / New Challenges, new skills and competences
1 – 7 June 2016375 kmToulouse – BordeauxTowards participatory libraries!
5 – 11 August 2016385 kmWelland – OntarioMulticulturalism
17 – 20 May 2017150 kmÖresund tourInformation specialists
18 – 24 June 2017300 kmLe LémanFrancophonie and cooperation
28 August – 1 September 2017350 kmBrașov – SibiuCicloBiblio in Romania
10 – 13 September 2017300 kmTrois-Ponts – GenkCycling and learning / Collaboration
June 2 – 7, 2018350 kmAngers – La RochelleWhat is a library for?
31 May – 6 June 2019350 kmLe Havre – Paris
24 September – 27 September200 kmBéziers to Béziersmini Cyclo-biblio
28 May – 2 June300 kmLorLux

Worldwide Movement

If you want to create your own Cycling for Libraries ride to advocate for libraries and the benefits they bring to our communities, reach out on social media using the hashtag #cyclingforlibraries to discover if any colleagues have already put plans into motion in your area, or to find like-minded individual with which to collaborate on your own adventure.

They said about libraries…

An original idea. That can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them.”

STEPHEN FRY, ENGLISH ACTOR

“There is not such a cradle of democracy on earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.”

ANDREW CARNEGIE, AMERICAN INDUSTRIALIST

“I had no books at home. I started to frequent a public library in Lisbon. It was there, with no help except curiosity and the will to learn, that my taste for reading developed and was refined.”

JOSE SARAMAGO, PORTUGUESE NOVELIST

The types of cycles that are recommended for use on Cycling For Libraries rides:

While it is possible to attend individual sessions to meet colleagues for the purpose of information sharing and library promotion, we suggest completing the whole ride. Pick a bicycle you are comfortable covering long ground on, such as a gravel bike, which are currently very popular, a road bike which is faster but perhaps a little less comfortable over longer distances, a hybrid bike which provides greater comfort over urban terrain, or if you prefer some assistance on the hills or over longer distances, then a pedelec e-bike. Please ensure any e-bikes are legal in the countries the tour is passing through.