Cycling for libraries in a nutshell


Some basic information about the Cycling for libraries as well as the 2013 tour Amsterdam–Brussels in the short PDF file here: What is Cycling for libraries or read it here:

Cycling for libraries in a nutshell

Cycling for libraries is a combined international library unconference and a cycling event the aim of which is to raise attention to libraries by public visibility outside of library walls. It supports environmental values by emphasizing recycling as one of the fundamental tasks of libraries. And promotes professional well-being by combining profound international networking and physical exercise on bike. The event gathers annually 100 innovative and enthusiastic librarians for this about a week’s (9–11 days) conference to cycle from 400 to 700 km.

Cycling for libraries has been arranged successfully since 2011. The first time was from Copenhagen to Berlin (650 km), and the second through the Baltic states from Vilnius and going via Riga and Tartu to Tallinn (620 km). Discussions focus on the suitability of the prevailing library concept in the society where the electronic dissemination of information and sharing of knowledge are bound to change the basic idea of the activities of libraries. Our goal is to raise significant visibility in the target countries. It is carried out by a local PR office to local and national media, and, on the other hand, by physical visibility on the cycling route in towns and resorts. We seek to make use of the police escorts in order to achieve publicity – this helps people to understand that libraries want to be heard as one of the important services in the society. Visibility is also gained through social networks.

Cycling for libraries is an impressive and effective way to bring publicity to public libraries and to promote public access to information in a new and different way.


The event is organized by a group of active library professional from Finland in cooperation with local libraries and library related partners internationally. Cycling for libraries organizing team in Finland is a consortium of library professionals that operate independently from the library organizations to create new platforms for exchanging opinions and seeking new ideas for future libraries.

So far the tours have been funded to a large extent by the Ministry of Education and Culture in Finland. Our annual budget is about EUR70.000. One third of the budget comes from the participation fees. We also apply for grants work together with selected sponsors. 
The organizers come from different library sectors and with heterogeneous skills. It goes without saying that we are a non-profit organizer and all the about 20 library professionals do all the organizing work on a voluntary basis. 
For instance:

  • They make plans for the tours (work has to be done throughout the year)
  • They contact the local libraries and library related partners
  • They have meetings on the program, seminars, accommodation and catering
  • They maintain the website, the email lists, and the social media communities
  • They check the route in advance by driving by car at least once, and if possible, by bike, too

Special services on the road

We have a catering van of our own and a chef who will take care of our meals and coffees along the way. We also have a four-person video team with ability to shoot and edit the daily shots and the other documentary material during the tour. They also take care of video streaming. In addition, we have some technical equipment and audio-visual equipment. All in all, we are not only a group of librarians with bikes, there will be three vans and trailers and a person car for the video team to carry the luggage and supplies of the organizers and participants.


  • 100+ participants are chosen by enrolling. The 2013 Amsterdam–Brussels tour is sold out.
  • 2013 participants come from Argentina, Belarus, Belgium, 
Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Peru, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, UK, Ukraine, and USA. The list might be subject to change.
  • The entry fee is EUR250 and it covers food, accommodation and all programs.
  • Participants will provide a personal task for themselves, which is their homework for the tour. The outcomes will be gathered together and used for advocacy purposes, if 
  • The daily programme starts at about 7.30 am, breakfast at 8 am, packing and 
morning info at 9 am and cycling starts at 10 am. The average length of a cycling day is about 60 km. Along the way we will visit libraries and have seminars and discussions.

Local cooperation – this is what we are really looking for  

Local help from Belgium and the Netherlands is highly appreciated, and we accept assistance in any form libraries and partners have to offer: contacts, arranging accommodation, facilities for events and seminars, and knowledge of local specialties as well material and financial support.  
We are delighted to explore libraries in their natural environment, not to isolate in lecture halls. This can include, of course, all kinds of cultural events in which national and local specialties and attractiveness will be displayed. Sometimes the participants wish to have more information about the local culture, sometimes it happens that we get too much of it. It can be difficult to say how much is enough. We want both library related and cultural program in appropriate proportions however so that the professional content is our top priority.

Media coverage

Cycling for Libraries has been present in the media during its tours – and that is really important not only for us but especially for our profession. For instance, the local German press in 2011 had a great interest in the tour and there was a surprisingly high response to the efforts of the media agency. Journalists were present at almost all stops, and the reports actually made it in the daily press. Particularly surprising was the echo in the Berlin press, though the arriving in Berlin itself was not in the press. There, Cycling for Libraries (in combination with public libraries and the German Library Conference as topics) had a presence over several days. In 2012 in Riga five national TV channels were waiting us for interviews – this was mainly due to a minister who was present there and cycled with us for a couple of km to city hall.

Unconferences – what are they?

We have discovered, that it might be a bit difficult to transport the meaning of the unconference i.e. international exchange of library ideas, themes, discussion networking, to librarians we will meet during the tour. This can sometimes have a negative affect on the willingness of participation of local colleagues at seminars. So we would hope that you could spread the word about the nature of Cycling for libraries meetings to the librarians. We prefer the presentations made by the participants themselves and not so much lectern set speeches and PowerPoint. We also prefer discussions, spontaneity, and brainstorming. All our seminars should be open to everyone interested, not only for the cyclists. So welcome all! We want to meet many local librarians in their own countries and daily working environment or just to hear their opinions if we meet outside library. All the technical and practical arrangements usually take most of our time and less time will be invested in the discussion of the conferences’ professional, i.e. library related message and the implementation of these ideas in the tour. We welcome all ideas that will help us deepen this part of our tour.

Contacting us

Please feel free to contact the main organizers of Cycling for libraries:

  • Jukka Pennanen,, producer, founder. Tel. +358 401912191
  • Mace Ojala,, the leading cyclist and pathfinder, main organizer for the route and accommodation, social networks etc.  Tel. +358 40 5752516

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