After spending the night at the Turner KATY Trail Shelter Hostel in Tebbetts, Missouri (with air conditioning and kitchen, only $5 a night), we headed out under a stormy sky with thunder rumbling in the distance. But the good news- cloudy skies, cool temperatures, and as it turned out, very little rain throughout the day. We made good time and decided to push a little farther today in order to miss some of the heat and sun expected for tomorrow.
60 miles into our ride, we stopped in Boonville- sister city to our hometown of Boone, NC (Daniel Boone really got around). The city received its name since Daniel Boone stayed in the area and worked with two sons that owned a salt lick-- thus the name of the cultural area, Boones Lick Country, or Boonslick. And how do I know so much about Boonville and Boonslick? By talking with Cathy Birk (Branch Supervisor), Julie Carlson and Marilyn Williams (Library Clerks), at the Boonslick Regional Library in Boonville, Missouri. Many cyclists from the KATY Trail stop at the library, with the Library well-situated on Main Street. Visitors may use the computers with ID or relax and learn about the history of the region.
We really enjoyed our conversation with Cathy, Julie, and Marilyn and learned some interesting things-- such as Will Rogers attended the former Kemper Military School in Boonville; Julie cycled from Fort Collins to Yellowstone in her 20s; and the library was originally a single room in the courthouse until it moved into its current location in 1953, and the library has a portrait painted by George Bingham hanging near the circulation desk. Plus, the library recently received a generous donation from bibliographic philanthropist James Jacobs, a traveler that drives across the United States, dropping off boxes of books at libraries. Sounds like our kind of guy.
Check out our photo below with the library staff. Yes, these three ladies really are as warm and welcoming as they look. Thanks Marilyn, Julie, and Cathy for the good time in Boonville!
This morning we got back on the bikes after a three-day break to visit Lawrence, Kansas, for our son’s and future daughter-in-law’s wedding shower. It was refreshing to spend time with family and to take time to heal our muscles. Today we were full of energy as we rode from Edwardsville, Illinois to Marthasville, Missouri, crossing the Mississippi and beginning our four-day journey on the KATY Trail.
70 miles into our 83 mile ride today, we took a short (and steep) detour to Augusta, Missouri. Augusta has a population of 318 people but also has seven wineries, six bed-and-breakfasts, a brewery, an antique store, and a spa—quite the tourist town. Many of these tourists are cyclists riding the KATY Trail and if they look at the sign near the trail that lists points of interest, they will see that this small tourist town has a place that provides free wifi, computer access, and a place to hang out—the St. Charles City-County Library, Augusta Branch.
At the library, we got to talk with library staff members Susan, Lisa, and Shawna. And before I write anything else, I want the world to know: THEY GAVE US COFFEE AND COOKIES. Highlight of our day. We also asked about library services available to non-residents. In the past, the library charged guests to use the computers but they changed this policy to better serve the general public. Now guest passes are issued with no fee and no ID required. They also provide wifi inside and outside the building, plus cookies and bottles of cold water. Their programming is attended by people throughout the county and they are expecting a group of Road Scholars to stop by the library this summer as they bike the KATY Trail. They also share information about what to do and see in the area, telling John and me about the Daniel Boone Memorial here in Marthasville.
Such creative and engaging programming at Augusta Branch. Selected programs include coffee and conversation on Thursday mornings; a knitting group on Thursday afternoons; and Susan coordinates a quilting group that meets once a month. The Summer Reading Program is off to a rocking start today with a patio party hosted by Shawna and the Lego Builders Group’s creations are on display along the tops of the bookshelves. During our visit a wide range of ages were on the computers, checking out books, and signing kids up for Summer Reading. A thriving library in a small town, supported by the community and surrounding area.
Thanks to Shawna, Lisa, and Susan for sharing their time and information about the library and area. Your hospitality was outstanding and very much appreciated.
As the temperatures reached into the upper 80s this afternoon, we saw the universal library sign (symbol of a person reading a book) on the side of the road. We followed the sign into the small town of Brownstown, Illinois (population 750), where we found the Brownstown Branch of the St. Elmo Library District. The Branch Library had obviously served as a bank in the past since the open vault (now used as a reading area for children) was the first thing we saw when we entered. We immediately felt great relief from the heat and drank heavily from the water cooler by the entrance.
Inside we met Karen Wegscheid She is a librarian and firefighter.
Think that’s great employment combination?
Well, the other librarian is also the MAYOR.
Karen answered a lot of our questions about library service for non-residents. She has seen other bicycle tourists at the main library in St. Elmo, mainly using the computers. As with many small towns, the library is the only place with free wifi for the traveler. After riding 60 miles, these two librarians very much appreciated the water, toilet, air-conditioning, comfy chairs, and great conversation. We learned a lot about Brownstown and the surrounding districts—much more than if we had just continued riding without stopping. The bicycle tour is about seeing the United States but also talking with people along the way, eating the food, marveling at the changing landscapes, and staying aware of the changes in the weather.
Thanks Karen! It was lovely meeting you.
What a difference a tailwind can make! Today we rode 72 miles in record time, plus gained an hour crossing over into Central Standard Time, from Indiana into Illinois. We rode through several small towns, including the beautiful and friendly Marshall, Illinois, where we stopped at the Marshall Public Library. Marshall has a thriving downtown with the library centrally located in a historic building with beautiful high ceilings. The building has an interesting history, previously serving as a farm implement store, an automobile body shop, and a Kroger grocery.
At the library we had the chance to talk with Gabby Fraser and Angelina Throckmartin (both Library Clerks), and Jamie Poorman (Head Librarian). They were so very enthusiastic about their jobs, the library, and the community. John and I learned that Marshall Public is part of Illinois Heartland Library System. This means that any library card from the over 500 participating libraries within Illinois can be used at Marshall Public Library. Out of town guests can also sign in to use the computers or wifi, use one of three available iPads, buy a book from the booksale, pick up a free book at their “little libraries” placed throughout the area, or participate in library programming.
The big news for the Library is the upcoming renovation that will begin this summer. Sonny Daly, member of the Handy Writer’s Colony, donated $100,000 to the library upon his death. With matching funds saved by the library over the years, the entire main floor will be redesigned to include a maker space (with 3-D printer), an enhanced genealogy area, improved handicap accessibility, and increased seating. John and I were so impressed with this small town and library, we hope to return and see the renovations, plus visit again with the librarian and library staff.
Thanks to Gabby, Angelina, and Jamie. Your enthusiasm is evident throughout the library, a truly special place.
Today’s ride was one of the most difficult, 65 miles with over 2,100 feet of climbing and a westerly wind right in our faces. Good thing we could break up the day with a visit to the Main Library of the Morgan County Public Library in Martinsville. The building is a beautiful Carnegie Library with a well-blended addition. We met the Reference and Digital Literacy Librarian, Lorie Long and the Library Director, Krista Ledbetter. Lori walked us around the main collection and the genealogy area. Popular services for non-residents include open access to wifi inside and outside the building, the Little Free Library, the book sale, and genealogy services. At the Main Library, the genealogist often performs research for individuals and mails information to their homes. Everyone is welcome to programs and can use the computers with a guest pass.
Krista told us about the upcoming library expansion for the Main Library, finances coming from a bond and savings accrued from the library’s budget. The new addition will give the library more space for the young adults of the community that use the library as a central gathering place. A blessing but also a challenge in that other patrons find the teenagers a bit noisy. Another challenge currently facing the Main Library is the opioid problem, a situation that exists in many areas of the United States. Due to the rise in opioid addiction Lori and her staff fear that one day medical intervention will be needed or come too late for one of their patrons.
Oh, and another cool thing. At the Main Library, they loan out bicycle locks for use with their bike rack. Genius AND promotes cycling to the library! Great idea Krista.
John and I are increasingly enjoying our library visits. After we speak with library staff, we always feel as if we learned not only about the library but also about the community and the librarians themselves. Thanks Krista and Lori.
The last two days we've been riding through a combination of bike trails and steep hillside. The wind comes at us from all directions although we always prefer it at our backs. Clouds blocked the sun, bringing some rain. Halfway through our ride yesterday, we stopped at the Jamestown Community Library, part of the Greene County Public Library system. Greene County has an amazing rails-to-trails system called the Greene Trails, part of the bigger Miami Valley Bike Trails.
We were greeted by Head Librarian, Paul Gregor. We connected with Paul through Sue Jeffrey, the Head Librarian at the Cedarville Community Library branch. Sue is a cyclist herself and is the mastermind behind the Book Bike, a bike-towed trailer containing a mobile collection of books available for check-out. Not only does the Book Bike extend the library's outreach to additional patrons, it strengthens the library's connection with Parks and Trails and supports wellness in the community.
Paul and library staff member Jane Hollingsworth spent time with us, telling us about library services available to cyclists and other non-resident library users. First thing we noticed was a poster of all the county bike trails placed right behind the reference desk. Paul showed us how we could follow the Little Miami trail for the rest of the afternoon, getting us off the roads. The Library also had flyers advertising group rides arranged by Greene County Parks & Trails. Tourists passing through town can get a guest pass to use the computers or they can take advantage of the free wifi available inside and outside the library. Plus, all county libraries recently installed "bike-friendly" water fountains, enabling cyclists an easy way to fill their water bottles.
We encourage everyone that is traveling in the area or that plans to cycle in the area to check out the Miami Valley Bike Trails and the Greene County Libraries. They're a great combination.
Today we cycled 65 miles from Buckeye Lake to Deer Creek State Park in Ohio. After riding through the steep hills of West Virginia and eastern Ohio, the gentle rolling hills were a welcome relief. Halfway through our ride, we stopped in Circleville to visit the Pickaway County District Public Library. This library is listed on today's route for the Eastern Express Route as a place where cyclists can stop and use the internet and wifi.
As soon as we entered the library, Sarah Hintz asked if she could help us. Sarah is the Adult Services Coordinator at Pickaway and spent time talking with John and me about the library, the town of Circleville, and some upcoming library programming. Sarah hasn’t seen a lot of bicycle tourists in the library but the library will be hosting activities (film and board games) for cyclists coming through town in June as part of the Greater Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA). As non-residents the cyclists can use the computers with a guest pass and since many of them will be from Ohio, they can use their local library card or get one at Pickaway. The library also offers a book sale (contribution-based) and has some very nice meeting rooms that can be reserved. As we were leaving, we discovered that the library was offering popcorn and two showings of Black Panther today—for free!!
And the coolest thing we found out about Circleville? Every October they host “The Greatest Free Show on Earth” the Pumpkin Show. Over 40,000 visitors come to town to celebrate pumpkins and all pumpkinny-food (I think I just made up a word). It really looks like fun and I love a good pumpkin bread.
Thanks to Sarah for spending time with us. We really enjoyed the conversation and learning more about Circleville and Pickaway County District Public Library.
Today we rode from Senecaville Lake to Buckeye Lake, Ohio, a total of about 65 miles. Halfway through the day we stopped in Zanesville to buy supplies and to visit The John McIntire Library. And so very glad we did. We had many conversations with the librarians, staff, and volunteers. Alyssa Fisher and Scott Horst told us some interesting things-- like anyone can get a library card at this library, they just need to show an ID. So even North Carolina bicycle tourists like us can take advantage of everything the library has to offer. Alyssa said they do have bicycle tourist use the library as they travel through Zanesville. They generally use the computers and take time to relax. Scott told us the library has strong support from the community, especially from the county. It was obvious during our visit that the library was a very busy place.
Jeffrey Cornett showed us the Carnegie Wing of the library. Walking towards the wing, one can see the outer walls of the original building. Inside the wing are beautiful stain glass ceilings. Whoever designed the addition (built in the 90s) did a wonderful job mixing the old with the new.
And Beth got the chance to visit the Book Sale room and the Genealogy Library, both staffed by volunteers. The book sale was huge, shelves and shelves of books, hard back and paperback. The Genealogy Library receives lots of out-of-town visitors researching their lineage. Beth had a great conversation with Luvadia and Rebecca (both volunteers) and Helen (patron). I learned about the Y Bridge, the only such bridge in the United States (we crossed it as we left town) and the fact that Zane Grey, western and adventure author, grew up in Zanesville.
Thanks to everyone that took time to speak with us, it was a wonderful visit.
On Monday we visited with Bonnie at the Follansbee Public Library, in Follansbee, West Virginia. It is a branch library of the Brooke County Public Library and the coolest thing-- the library was originally a bank and retains many of the bank fixtures. The YA collection is named the "Young Adult Vault" and is in the actual bank vault. Another interesting collection is their West Virginia section- we had fun looking through some of the old yearbooks. Bonnie hasn't seen a lot of cyclists coming through town but we're guessing that will change as the Eastern Express Bicycle Route gains popularity.
We spent much of Saturday and all of Sunday in Pittsburgh, giving us enough time to visit three libraries (plus visit family and attend a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game). After finishing the GAP Trail, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Downton & Business was our first stop. We spoke a bit with the circulation staff and heard about the crazy hills in the city and a race called the Dirty Dozen which includes Canton Avenue (35% grade). We also discovered the amazing array of programming available through the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh, including butter making, English skills classes, a support group for runners, and a meet-the-author series. What really touched my heart was the "Library Welcome Center" for new Pittsburgh residents. The center includes resources for ESL, citizenship, and learning about Pittsburgh. This library represented so many of the best attributes of a public library--open and welcoming to all, building community, and providing access to information and resources.
On Sunday, we visited the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Main Library. What an amazing structure! Surrounded by the Carnegie Museums of Art & Natural History and close to the University of Pittsburgh, the library is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We spoke with Rick and Rita in the popular reading section about the history of the library, about the Carnegie Libraries programming, and a bit about cycling. We also went up to the second floor to check out the reading room and the view of the dinosaur exhibit next door in the Natural History Museum.
Due to its close proximity to Pitt, a lot of students use the Main Library, especially during exams. Plus tourists come from the museums, many drawn to the library cafe on the first floor. And the programming! The Main Library advertises even more programs than the Downtown & Business Library, including a cooking club, a puppet show, financial wellness training, and free language classes for English, Italian, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian!
And our third library visit was to the Hillman Library on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Great library but we were there to visit The One The Only The Amazing Dan Kaple. Dan worked with us at Appalachian State University but left for Pittsburgh so his wife could begin graduate studies at Pitt. Miss you Dan. Hillman is lucky to have you.