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TL v64n2: Cycling for Libraries in Tennessee for TEL 2014
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Cycling for Libraries in Tennessee for TEL 2014


Sally Robertson


Once there was a librarian who loved to go everywhere by bicycle. She would ride to her job, to buy groceries, and to church, but her favorite place to go was to the library to read books. She loved everything about being a librarian, from cataloging the books to shelving the books. She really liked helping people find the information they needed. Then one day she found out about a Cycling for Libraries event that was started by librarians in Europe who liked to cycle and wanted a different way to promote and talk about libraries. She wanted to bring this event to America. 

She made a proposal to the Tennessee Library Association (TLA) to have a Cycling for Libraries tour as a pre-conference to the annual TLA conference. The ride would be a tour from the Mt. Juliet Public Library, to the Lebanon Public Library, to the Watertown Public Library, and ending at the Linebaugh Public Library in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Each stop was to be about 15 miles apart. The total tour was to be 56 miles. Librarians could join at any stop. She even got the Mt. Juliet Breakfast Rotary Club to sponsor safety vests for the participants. Even though nobody pre-registered for her event, did that stop the cycling librarian? No way. She still hoped that some other librarians might join her along the way in her quest to promote libraries and the Tennessee Electronic Library, TEL for short. She even made special "Cycling for Libraries" bookmarks with the TEL website on them to give out to people along the way. 

Well, the big day finally arrived. She rode to the Mt. Juliet Public Library to start the tour.  Her ride to Lebanon and Watertown were great. In Lebanon she stopped by the Lebanon Public Library and the Vise Library at Cumberland University. The Lebanon library had snacks and water for her. The weather was perfect for riding a bike. She chatted with people along the way and gave out bookmarks. Watertown PL was her lunch stop, and a librarian there had a great sandwich and chips for her. She left Watertown all refreshed and ready for the second half of her quest. This is where her tale gets exciting.

After talking to a local person about her route, they recommended a different route that would utilize a road with a better shoulder for biking. She was told it was just 3 or 4 miles up the road. Well it actually added 20 miles and several hills to her tour! But, by talking to some other locals, and of course telling them about TEL, and giving them TEL bookmarks, she did find a really nice and very scenic road that followed a little creek for a while, and had very little traffic.  At one point she got to ride her bike through a stream!  She thought that was pretty cool. Once she got to the road with the good shoulder, she still had about 20 miles to Murfreesboro. She did stop along the way to talk to people and tell them about TEL. After almost 9 hours she finally arrived in Murfreesboro. She rode by MTSU and talked to some college students about TEL. After riding 75 miles and having dinner, she finally checked into her hotel. She curled up to read and soon fell fast asleep dreaming about TEL and her next cycling adventure! Her slogan is "ride more bikes, read more books, and don't Google it, TEL it!"

She is already planning her next Cycling for Libraries ride at next year's TLA conference in Memphis. It will be shorter, beginning and ending at the conference hotel. She is planning to visit some libraries in Memphis and hopefully ride some of the Mississippi River Trail. So dust off your old bicycle, bring it to the annual conference, and see Memphis in a different way all while promoting TEL and Tennessee libraries. Rental bikes will be available. Let's see how many Cycling Librarians are in Tennessee.


Sally Robertson is a librarian at Nashville State Community College. She can be reached at


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