New Initiatives Grant Final Report

“Biking by the Book”

Please provide a brief narrative explaining your project and its outcomes.

Biking by the Book is part of our larger effort to revamp the middle school library into someplace students want to come. Students, faculty, and staff were all asked the question, “What would make you want to come to the library more often?”

Based upon the answers, we began a self-improvement project that continues even during COVID. We’ve ditched the old paper catalog, increased our electronic loan capabilities, partnered with the local public library system, genrefied the physical collection, dedicated space for makerspace activities, weeded and prioritized our physical collection, overhauled our instruction program, created a different online presence, and overhauled the physical space.

Biking by the Books was part of the physical space changes. Some of our responses to the original question (above) referred to the traditional seating in our library–students and staff responded that some non-traditional seating, which allowed movement, would be appreciated. (A practical suggestion in a middle school–who doesn’t squirm?)

Biking by the Book was our grant request to get Fitdesks in our library–part bike, part desk, for students who needed to move, but also needed a place to read/use computers. The proposal had us setting them up, using a map to track mileage, and take a virtual trip as far as we could go across the state/country, stopping in at various points of interest along the way to learn some factoids about local history.

The project began in late February; the bikes were set up right before Spring Break. We introduced them to our students; response based upon signups was large. Anecdotal evidence (we asked students who signed up for time on the bikes to write us a note about their experience) was positive as well. We were off to a great start.

Unfortunately, we shut down completely for the rest of the school year after Spring Break due to COVID, so this project could not continue. When we came back this Fall in hybrid mode, we hoped/expected to begin again, but due to restrictions on library space usage (we do not allow students to stay for the whole period, the library is used as lunch space). We continue to try to implement it as we go in and out of remote/hybrid learning situations.

What is the most remarkable accomplishment or finding of your project?

Even today, I have hybrid students asking when we are going to reopen for whole periods. The positivity of this experience made its mark on our students and has accomplished raising their awareness of the library and what it has to offer them.

Please provide a brief summary of your evaluation activities and/or results, if available.

We did start asking students to book ahead of time if they wanted FitDesk time, but we quickly realized they were self-regulating. The first 2 weeks (before shutdown), students could 15 minutes on the bikes, and they booked ahead consistently. Anecdotal evidence collected was as expected–short notes that said “cool!”, or “I liked it”–we need to revamp this to something more substantial when we open fully. The maps are available, but without students working the desks, we haven’t “traveled” yet–this will be next year’s activity online and on our bulletin board.

Anything else you’d like us to know?

Unfortunately, I cannot upload the pictures–I need signed parental consent for each child shown, and some have moved/graduated on to HS. However, I did include them in the 5-minute talk at the virtual conference! I’m looking forward to extending this over the years–and especially next Fall when we can incorporate the maps and local history components and make it a talking point for the library. As it stands right now, it doesn’t look likely that we will all be together in the building to do a whole school activity until then.

Jennine Bloomquist

Librarian, Camden Middle School

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