Biking Librarians Bring Pedal-Power to the People

This article first appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of Ride-On, Bike East Bay’s member magazine. Ride-On is one of the many perks of Bike East Bay membership. Join or renew today!

Books and bikes are the new peanut butter and jelly, thanks to librarians like Dan Beringhele and Erin Sanders. This biking power couple is integrating bicycle programming into library offerings as one way they’re helping keep libraries vital and relevant in the internet age.

Dan Beringhele is a reference librarian at Berkeley Public Library. He built their bike library, which he pedals out every week to reach community members who have a hard time getting to a regular branch. Libraries are transforming their roles and service models, serving as community and social service hubs to bring people and resources together, and thinking outside library walls.

Erin Sanders is the branch manager at the Golden Gate Branch of the Oakland Public Library (OPL), and is involved with OPL’s fleet of bike libraries (that’s right, they have three). She also organizes speakers, film screenings, and craft activities at her library to share a wide range of bicycling experiences.

Dan and Erin both partner with Bike East Bay’s Education Program to offer our free bicycling skills classes, hosted at their libraries. They noted, “Bike East Bay is an inclusive organization offering workshops and activities for many types of riders, people from all walks of life, and all over town.” They love partnering with us to offer programming that fits with their library values and priorities for equitable access to information and community-focused programming.

Erin has taken the book-bike love a step farther. After attending a film screening hosted by Bike East Bay’s Women Bike Book Club in 2015, Erin and colleague Emily Weak offered to collaborate on the book club. The Women Bike Book Club now meets on first Thursdays at the Golden Gate branch to discuss feminism and bicycling, and is open to everyone.

Erin and Emily find gems, from graphic novels and short story collections to old-timey titles that are surprisingly hilarious. As part of OPL’s “Read it. Love it. Pass it on.” program, the library provides books that are free for you to take. Best of all, copies remaining after book club are added to the bike libraries.

In addition to being bike librarians, Dan and Erin are dedicated bicycle commuters, fans of bike camping and long distance riding, and active Bike East Bay members. When Bike East Bay added a monthly donation option in 2016, Dan and Erin were among the first to sign up as Monthly Supporters.

Dan said, “Giving monthly seemed like a good deal. Jjust give double, but spread it out over the year, and you don’t even notice.”

Dan had a career in organizing before becoming a librarian. He said, “It takes money to do organizing!”

The couple reflected, “It’s important for organizations to have the resources to get work done.”  

Erin likes seeing bike infrastructure expand rapidly. She said, “I used to think bike lanes fell out of the sky from a benevolent god.” She knows now that good access comes with high-quality, connected infrastructure, which often takes long campaigns to achieve. Since steady progress comes from steady effort, she’s happy to give steady support.

As Monthly Supporters, Dan and Erin power Bike East Bay with the resources it takes to build bike-friendly cities. Become a Monthly Supporter today at BikeEastBay.org/Join.