How do you get the word out about great library programs in Atlanta? With the Word on the Street Library Bike, of course! The Word on the Street bike is a carbon-neutral mobile library that takes AFPL Pop-Up Libraries and outreach programs to festivals, street markets, block parties and more all over the Atlanta-Fulton area. The bike is a three wheeler with an electric-assist motor and a metal box on the back for carrying books, dvds, program materials and all sorts of other fun stuff to let people get a taste of what they can find when they come to one of the 34 locations all around the Atlanta metro region. Of course, as a bike, it is perfect for parades! Recently AFPL participated in the annual DragonCon Parade, with the Man in the Yellow Hat and his friend Curious George putting the word out about how important it is to come to the library, while intrepid library staff handed out superhero bookmarks to the crowd. Being able to be a part of a large, city-wide event like DragonCon was not only fun, but it gave the library a whole new group to reach in a very visible manner. This is a perfect example of that makes the bike so great: not only does it allow for mobility where a bookmobile might not be able to go, but it is a unique and interesting item that draws people in to see what it is all about.
The bike has been a tremendous addition to the already robust AFPL outreach program, which now has three librarians assigned exclusively to adult, youth, and business outreach, while branch librarians take programming out to their own communities. Although books and other materials are an important component of this outreach, AFPL also has a whole host of STEAM paraphernalia including 3-D pens, button makers, Snap Circuits, Makey Makeys and Little Bits that have been very popular, as well as oversized games and drones for kids and adults to play with. All of the branches have access to these items through the STEAM Trunk, which can be borrowed for their own individual programs. Librarians regularly go to schools to tell students about the many electronic resources that AFPL has, and hold classes on how to utilize these resources for classwork, college prep, scholarship searches, and more. AFPL has made a commitment to expanding its programming and outreach as it takes on a massive renovation program of 22 of its branches, including the Central Branch downtown; with these branches closed, it is important to get the library out in the community to ensure continuity of services and to keep people connected to their branch library. AFPL’s motto is to “Take your dreams off the shelf,” but now it is literally taking them off the shelf and straight to the patrons!