Library Workout

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Positive Feedback from Students after Successful Test Phase of the Electricity Generating Exercise Bike in Freie Universität’s Philological Library

No 126/2019 from May 13, 2019

Following a trial period of several weeks, the Philological Library of Freie Universität Berlin has purchased a stationary bike for library users that produces electricity. The exercise bike was well received and will now be permanently available for cycling between the bookshelves. According to a survey conducted on the Philological Library’s Facebook page and on a tablet computer set up in the library, 81 percent of participants agreed that students sat too much and should get more exercise. Eighty-seven percent wanted the bicycle to become a permanent addition to the library. Around 200 people participated in the survey. The bike is located at the back of the Philological Library on the entry level.

The response from students on Facebook was overwhelmingly positive. No need to go all the way to the gym, one online user commented with a wink, now you can just go to the library instead. Other comments included statements along the lines of "Ride ’em, cowboy" and "Time to burn some fat!" But not all reactions were positive. A few expressed concern that the bike would be disruptive. These concerns were acknowledged, and the bike was moved to a different spot in the back of the library on level 0 farther away from other work areas.

Library employee Janet Wagner, who introduced the idea of getting a library bike, now finds herself having to reign in users’ athletic enthusiasm. The stationary bicycle is not there to burn calories, she says, but to boost concentration though light physical activity after a strenuous reading session. An environmentally friendly side effect of the bike: It also produces electricity. Cyclists can recharge their electronic devices while they pedal.

Librarians from other German institutions have expressed interest in getting stationary bikes of their own. Many universities around the world already have similar equipment. For example, students can hop on bikes at Boston University, the University of Lille, and Sofia University in the Bulgaria’s capital.

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