Powered by Possibility
Each year, the national publication Library Journal recognizes some of the most dynamic people who work in and for libraries. This year, PCPL librarian Karen Greene was named one of their Movers & Shakers in the category of Community Builder for her visionary work ensuring that everyone across Pima County has access to the Library’s books and materials.
Karen founded three programs connecting people in our community with the love of reading:
Karen created the Library’s Bookbike program in January 2012, the first public library program of its kind in the nation. According to Karen, “The project is patterned after a similar program in Chicago which was run by an individual, not a library.
After reading the book Joy Ride by Mia Birk, I wanted to do a big bike project in Tucson and the Bookbike project got started. I've always felt it was important to bring books to people where they are, and then we can entice them to come into the library. I also feel it is important to reach people that have traditionally been underserved so we take the Bookbike to Casa Maria, Armory Park Senior Center, a GLBT Youth group, several low income senior housing facilities, farmer's market as well as out on the library plaza on Tuesdays when there are food trucks among other special events like Cyclovia, Ride for Reading, etc.”
Now, four years later, the first Bookbike has attended 335 events, logged 1,135 volunteer hours, pedaled 972 miles, and given away 36,146 free books. In August 2015, thanks to an anonymous gift, our program grew to a fleet of three bikes, and Karen is on well her way to her goal of “world domination by Bookbike.”
Books on Wheels
Karen developed the Books on Wheels program to deliver books to homebound and disabled residents in our community who are not able to visit the library in person. Local volunteers select the books and Pima County Bike Ambassadors deliver the books by bicycle. The ambassadors also spend time talking about books and life with our customers who may not have a lot of interaction with people beyond family members and caretakers. The program is a boon to people who can no longer come to the library: a combination of reader’s advisory, wellness check, companionship, and exercise.
Free Reading Glasses
Karen’s third innovative mobile literacy program grew organically from the other two programs: free reading glasses for all who need them.
As Karen describes it, “Once we started giving away books through the Book Bike, we realized that some people weren't taking books because they couldn't see to read. So I started a partnership with the Lions Club who now donate reading glasses to both the Bookbike as well as most library branches. People are really excited to get both books and reading glasses.” Each month our libraries distribute over 250 pairs of reading glasses.
Sharla Darby, Library Services Manager, marvels at all that Karen gets done. “Karen makes a huge community impact not only with her library programs, but also outside of her regular work. She’s an active citizen who cares about all kinds of issues, from neighborhoods to transportation, bike safety to parking. She brings ‘cool’ back to all things library with her fun, new ideas.”
Greene is the third Pima County Public Library staff member to receive the Mover & Shaker award in four years. Lisa Bunker was honored in 2012, and Justine Hernandez won in 2014.