Unexpected Service: Public Library

Aug 20, 2009

There are some basic services cyclists expect to see on our bicycle-travel oriented maps. These generally run the gamut from various lodging options, grocery stores, restaurants, and bike shops.

With the introduction of the Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail, we reviewed the possibility of adding a new service. This was back in the early 2000s, and the number of cyclists with daily online journals was beginning to acquire critical mass. Around this time we started receiving requests to list cyber cafes in the Service Directory. Unfortunately we knew from local experience that these kinds of businesses can be painfully short-lived.

Fortunately, also around this time, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was giving money to libraries across the country to update their computer systems, including internet capabilities. Aha! Here was our answer -- we would add public library locations. It seemed every county had at least one, and we gambled that the odds were good that bike tourists passed by them on a daily basis. As we added them, we always attempted to locate the branch closest to the route.

Since the addition of libraries to our maps, I have read in several cyclists' blogs that libraries often offer much more than just an internet connection. They are frequently air conditioned, and as such can be a good spot to cool off in the heat of the day. By talking to other patrons, arrangements can be made for overnight accommodations, and loads of free advice is available about local opportunities for recreation and sites to see.

We are thankful to the many librarians across the country who have warmly welcomed traveling cyclists into their domains and offered such fabulous assistance. In appreciation for all the services libraries provide, our Adopt a Library program allows you to donate an Adventure Cycling membership to a branch of your choosing for half price. Every library can use a little more adventure, don't you think?

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GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer 'Jenn' Milyko, an Adventure Cycling cartographer, and appears weekly, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.

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