Bikes at the library

In this photo from April, Athens County Public Library Assistant Director James Hill poses at the Nelsonville Public Library with three of the bikes that are available through the Book-a-Bike Program. Bikes were the most popular item borrowed in 2013.

If you had to guess, what do you think was the most popular item borrowed from Athens County’s public libraries in 2013? Perhaps a blockbuster movie, like “Hunger Games”? Or maybe a popular read, like “Fifty Shades of Gray” by E.L. James?

Not even close.

In perhaps a sign of the changing role of the public library, the most popular item borrowed was a bicycle.

“I was a little surprised,” said James Hill, assistant director of the Athens County Public Libraries. “I expected maybe something by Janet Evanovich. You just never know what to expect.”

In analyzing check-outs across all seven branches, the 19-inch bike came out as a clear winner as the most-circulated item. It was checked out 634 times in 2013. The 15-inch bike came in second with 395 check-outs.

It’s especially surprising given the Book-A-Bike program only exists in three libraries (Athens, Nelsonville and The Plains) and were only made available starting in May. More than 50 percent of the bike check-outs are from the Athens library, understandable when considering its close proximity to the bike path.

The most popular motive for checking out a bike in Athens seems to be for joy riding, while in Nelsonville, the reason is very different.

“In Nelsonville, the most popular one is the yellow cargo bike,” Hill said. “We’re so close to the food pantry. On food distribution days, we’ve had a family check it out every day to take the food donations home. That was sort of unexpected.”

The Book-A-Bike program is supported through a grant of about $17,000 from the Charles G. O’Bleness Foundation. With it, library officials purchased 16 sleek, black, three-speed, classic-style bicycles in two sizes. The library also has three adult cargo trikes, an adult recumbent trike and a hand trike available. For those with smaller children, the three branches have a tag-along and a Burley trailer (which also converts to a stroller).

After the bikes, the next most popular item checked out was “Hunger Games,” the movie, which was borrowed 260 times. “Fifty Shades of Gray,” if you’re wondering, was No. 12 on the list.

Trending Recipe Videos


asmedley@athensmessenger.com;

Twitter @ariansmessenger


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.