Bicycle theft was a problem at the Main Library of the Delaware County District Library. Kids and adults alike would ride their bike to the library, not own a lock, and find their bike stolen by the time they left to go home. This problem led to a unique opportunity to improve our patron’s lives and encourage them to continue to take this form of transportation to the library.
Seeing a need, I approached our director about purchasing some bike locks for the library to lend out for patrons while they are in the building. I received the permission to investigate, and determined a simple U-lock would suffice for the goals of the project. I returned with the information, and we placed an order with a local bike shop in Delaware. When they arrived, I prepared a set of keys to be kept at both the circulation and reference desks, as well as a set to be kept with our master keys. Each lock was labeled, and then a form was created.
The idea behind the form would be to have a simple method of obtaining contact information for the patrons using the bike locks to both keep track of usage, as well as to contact patrons should there be an issue with their bike. Some of the kids that were coming to the library didn’t have a library card and could not obtain one on the spur of the moment without a parent present, so the idea to require a library card was quickly dismissed. This form would suffice by including name, address, and phone number. It also included a password chosen by the patron that would allow them to easily confirm they are the correct patron when they wanted their bike unlocked.
When a patron wishes to have a bike locked up, they fill out the form, and a staff member follows them to the bike rack to lock up the bike. This keeps the keys from entering into the hands of those that might be less responsible with them, and ensures we can keep an eye on the bike rack. When a patron is ready to leave, they supply us with their password, and then we return to unlock the bike once again.
The project is a success, with an average of 36 uses over the last several months of 2017. Bike theft reports have become a rarity at our branch instead of a semi-regular occurrence.