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'BiblioTreka' Library Bike to Return by Summer After Successful Fundraiser

By Darryl Holliday | March 24, 2014 6:51am
Campaign to Replace Stolen Library Bike Succeeds in Time for Summer
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Read/Write Library

LOGAN SQUARE — The campaign to replace a stolen mobile library bike surpassed its goal last week, just in time for a summer of biking and sharing books in Chicago.

The Read/Write Library made its Indiegogo goal Friday as supporters and local organizations pitched in $5,103 to replace their stolen custom bike and buy a new Haley Tricycle for the independent library.

About $1,700 of the crowd-sourced funds will go toward paying back the stolen bike’s original owner, a similar amount will go toward buying a the new bike and the rest will help fund programs throughout the summer, said Nell Taylor, director of Read/Write Library.

Support from Busy Beaver Button Company, Quimby's Books and Sputnik Press came in the form of contribution rewards, such as a screenprinting workshop, custom buttons and gift certificates, during the three-month campaign.

Formerly the Chicago Underground Library, Read/Write Library collects local media including journals, books, newspapers and independently published magazines and catalogs them for the public to read at 914 N. California Ave. Nicknamed the "BiblioTreka" — a play on "biblioteca," the Spanish word for library — the three-wheeled cart is the centerpiece of Read/Write Library's community outreach strategy.

The “intentionally uncurated” collection of Chicago-specific media is well-served by the BiblioTreka, which has the ability to travel to widely and reach readers directly where they live, according to Taylor.

“We got an overwhelming reaction when we would take this material out to different neighborhoods. It allows us to go very deeply and very intimately into our collection,” she said. "To me that’s been the biggest success factor. We gauge it on the qualitative reactions people have — the stories and memories it jogs.”

While hopes for the bike’s safe return ran high when it was stolen during the early morning on August 25, 2013, detectives still haven’t located the custom vehicle.

"We just want the bike back," volunteer BiblioTreka rider Emily Lofquist said after the ride was stolen from her home last year. "We don't really care if you just leave it. ... We aren't trying to press charges or anything, we just want the bike back. It was a big program for us, and it was doing a lot of good, and had just gotten started."

According to Taylor, the mobile library bike is expected to resume runs by the early summer. Until then, Read/Write Library volunteers will spend time searching for a local, custom bike builder to trick out their new trike with foldable shelving units.

Readers interested in following BiblioTreka’s progress can check here for updates.