bike pump @ your library

In Yellow by Massics

We started circulating basic bike tools and a bike pump at my library today. It’s an idea that popped into my head in the spring. For the second time in a week, I was pushing my bike to the nearest bike store to get a flat changed. I suppose I should carry my own pump, but there’s usually one around when I need it.

Lots of people bike to my university. The bike racks, many of which are right outside the doors of the library, are usually jammed full.

The staff wellness committee agreed to buy the bike supplies (which came to about $60). I created dummy records, barcoded the items, and added them to the integrated library system. After all, we already have an inventory system, and an existing workflow to check things out to people. It will be easy for me to collect usage statistics to report back to the committee on their investment. The wellness committee will be promoting the tools in the card access bike cage, on the bike racks and by email.

It’s timely that we were able to add these. Alex Steffen, from Worldchanging, kicked off the Speaker’s Series. I’d first heard him on CBC’s Spark last year, talking about product-service systems, or systems of sharing stuff. Steffen argues that people don’t actually need to own a power drill, they need to occasionally make a hole.

Too often, we’ve been sold products we don’t actually really need — or at very least, rarely need — on the presumption that these products will bring us closer to the experiences and relationships we crave. Toolmakers, for instance, advertise power drills as tools for providing for our loved ones’ comfort, and thus showing our love for them, winning their approval or having the glow of a job well done (think: any of a number of ads showing a manly guy doing work around the house to the great satisfaction of his beaming wife). But the reality is that most power tools are used for only minutes a year. And, when it comes right down to it, what most of us really want is not the tool itself but the thing we get by using the tool. As my brother puts it, “You want the hole, not the drill.”

Getting a bike pump is a really small thing, but it’s another small way that we are being responsive to our users, demonstrating that we’re committed to sustainability, and challenging that we are just the place where the books are stored. We also get to add a few more circs to our statistics.

So, if you’re on Granville Island and your bike has a flat, come by and borrow our tools.

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