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Rochester library 'honored' by BookBike award

Kiki, a 9-year-old from Rochester, stopped by the Rochester Public Library on Thursday to check out the BookBike, which will be visiting several downtown locations this spring and summer.

Rochester Public Library's pedal-powered mobile library initiative has earned the library a $5,000 grant and an award from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Rochester rolled out its BookBike program in April, sending a bike and custom trailer of library materials and community information out to neighborhoods, parks and events through the summer. Rochester Public Library was the first in Minnesota to deploy a bicycle-based mobile library, according to a news release.

On Tuesday, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs announced the 24 winners of its ninth annual Local Government Innovation Awards . Rochester Public Library and its BookBike topped the city government category.

"We are honored to receive this prestigious award from the University of Minnesota," library director Audrey Betcher said in a news release. "Rochester Public Library not only provides traditional library services, but we also pride ourselves on innovating to meet customer's needs."

The mobile library allowed staff to reach nontraditional library users, said Heather Acerro, BookBike project director.


"On the BookBike, library staff made a lot of good connections with people who were not library users," Acerro said in the release. "It provided an opportunity for staff to invite them to visit the library, as well as sign them up on the spot for library cards."

From April through September, the BookBike reached 113 locations in the city, where library staff interacted with 5,696 community members, according to information provided by the Humphrey School.

The BookBike was funded in part by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, through a Community Collaboration grant from Southeast Libraries Cooperating, in 2014.

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs organizes the Local Government Innovation Awards in partnership with the Bush Foundation. The program is co-sponsored by the League of Minnesota Cities, the Association of Minnesota Counties, MN Association of Townships and the Minnesota School Board Association.

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