Winter Park Boy Scout raises money to build book bike

Pedal-powered library

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  • | 5:38 a.m. October 29, 2015
Photo by: Ciara Varone - Joey Cocchiarella picks up a copy of George Orwell's 1984, which he's reading for school, at the Winter Park Public Library.
Photo by: Ciara Varone - Joey Cocchiarella picks up a copy of George Orwell's 1984, which he's reading for school, at the Winter Park Public Library.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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Thanks to the efforts of 15-year-old Joey Cocchiarella, the Winter Park Public Library may be bringing its selection to the streets, pedaling hundreds of pounds of books to citizens’ front doors on the wheels of a tricycle.

Joey, who is currently a Life Scout in Troop 205 of the Central Florida Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said he knew he wanted to use his final project before becoming an Eagle Scout to benefit his local library. He said he approached the library’s executive director, Shawn Shaffer, who had noticed a project implemented by libraries across the nation, but which Winter Park’s library lacked the funds to make a reality.

“I’ve always really loved reading, so I came to the library and asked them what they needed, and they gave me the idea for the book bike,” Joey said.

The book bike the library and Joey are planning to build is actually a tadpole tricycle, with two wheels in front and a wooden box in between the wheels that would carry the cargo. The total cost to build will be around $3,000, Joey’s mother Beth Cocchiarella said.

“It can’t be something that’s constructed on the fly, which is what makes it so expensive,” Beth said. “It has to be ordered built for safety reasons.”

You can contribute and learn more about Joey’s book bike project at

Joey has raised $800 through a CrowdRise page, $500 through fundraising outside the Winter Park Village Publix, and another $750 thanks to a grant from Dr. Phillips Charities. He will hold a book drive for the bike after its completion, and then present it to the library.

“It’s been really interesting with the fundraising page to see how many people who we don’t even know, who just love the library and love Winter Park and have come and made donations.” Beth said. “Every dollar counts for this project.”

Joey, a sophomore at Winter Park High School, who in addition to his studies, rows crew six days a week and sings in the Winter Park Methodist Church choir, said he hopes the project will benefit those in the community who may not have access to the library’s services now.

“The mobile book bike will help outreach to the people who can’t come here and give them the library that they need,” Joey said.

Community librarian, Jody Lazar, said she’s excited for the opportunities this bike will make possible.

“Biking librarians can meet people where they already work and where they live and where they play, and can better fit into people’s busy lives that way,” Lazar said. “We always would want to continue to spread the love of reading and lifelong learning.”

She said the bike will serve as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, giving riders the ability to register people for library cards, renew existing cards that need updating and demonstrate website features, besides delivering library materials.

“It gives us visibility to tap into the community and to inspire them to draw out their curiosity and learn or master new ideas, create new knowledge and share it with others,” Lazar said. “It’s the whole idea of the 21st century library.”

Joey said he hopes to see the book bike pedaling through the streets of the city by spring of 2016.


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