Book-a-Bike, an idea that emerged from the Dallas County Library Association, is being implemented at the Perry Public Library this year. Book-a-Bike allows library card users to rent a bike for a day-long excursion or a simple means of transportation.

“The Dallas County Library Association got together and thought this would be a good idea to have bicycles along the Raccoon River Valley Trail,” said Mary Murphy, Perry Public Library Director.

With the involvement of five libraries including Waukee, Dallas Center, Adel, Perry, and the support of Minburn, the trail-libraries wrote a grant to receive funds for the bicycles.

Later, Murphy found out the grant had not been accepted. After discussing the news at the Library Board Meeting, City Council Member, Dean Berkland offered to donate bikes.

“When the grant didn’t come through, we decided to do the pilot project with the bikes ourselves because we’re right here and we’re going to be on the intersection of two bike trails right at this corner,” Murphy said.

Perry’s Library accepted the donation and began to organize the program.

“It’s quite staff-intensive because it’s not like checking out a book,” Murphy described. “We have a procedure we go through and it’s not surprising that patrons have to do a liability waiver, the staff have to check the bicycles before they leave to make sure the tire pressures are good - we have a checklist.”

Library card holders are able to check out a bike as well as the guest of a library card holder.

“You can’t be on probation, and you can’t be on new status,” Murphy said. “Once you are passed new status (60 days) then you can check out a bicycle.”

Before taking off, a liability waiver must be signed by those checking out the bikes and additional checks will be performed by the library staff.

Users are able to take a bike out for one day and can fill out an evaluation of the experience at the library. Some of the items include the reason behind checking out a bike, the time length spent on the bike,

“What’s so nice is that we are right on the trail,” Murphy said. “People have checked out the bicycle, hopped on the trail, done an hour bicycling trip, come back and say it was great.”

Two bikes currently sit at the Perry Public Library: “Sunshine,” a yellow bike, and “Bluey,” a blue bike. Each bike has lights, a bell, mirrors, as well as a Raccoon River Valley Trail pass.

“I would really like more people to use it (the bikes) because it’s a fantastic idea,” Murphy said. “We have in our tag line, ‘more than just books,’ because libraries are more than just books.”