Check out these wheels: Zipcars come to Kings Bay Library

Zipped up: A pair of Zipcars like this one are now available for rent at the Kings Bay Library in Sheepshead Bay.
Brooklyn Daily
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Now you can check out a car from the Kings Bay branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.

The borough’s library system is expanding its partnership with car-rental network Zipcar into Sheepshead Bay by hosting two of the firm’s vehicles at the branch — which has some local bookworms thinking about other ways the library could expand its offerings.

“It seems it me, that if we can now rent cars from the library, who is to say we cannot rent tents from the library,” said Sally Hu, a Brooklyn College student and longtime patron of the Kings Bay branch. “Now that we can rent cars, nothing seems impossible.”

The library isn’t about to become a camping-goods depot, but the Kings Bay branch is leasing to Zipcar two parking spaces previously reserved for library employees, and all the funds generated will pay for future programing and needed equipment. The pair of Zipcars in Sheepshead Bay join 19 others at nine other branches across the borough. The revenues underwrite story times and music programs for toddlers, children’s art and science classes, author talks, financial literacy workshops, poetry festivals, and writing seminars for adults, plus furniture, book trucks, shelving, audio equipment, and computer accessories.

The partnership with Zipcar is a natural fit, according to the library system’s chief librarian.

“Libraries have always been about sharing resources,” said Lisa Rosenblum. “You don’t need to buy every book because we loan them to you. Zipcar is a natural partner for us since they too are about sharing a resource. You don’t need to own your own car. Just borrow one from the library.”

It’s not exactly like checking out a book, of course, since to do have to pay for it — at rates of about $84 a day or $9.25 per hour — but just like the library, you have to be a member of Zipcar to use it. Library members who sign up for the Zipcar service will receive $20 off their first year’s annual fee, plus a $30 rental credit. Zipcars can be reserved by members via the Zipcar smartphone app, its webisite, or over the phone. Insurance and enough gas for 180 miles is included in the rental fee.

The partnership with the Brooklyn Public Library is a one-of-a-kind arrangement, according to the car-rental firm, because of the sheer scale.

“The Zipcar program at BPL is unique in that it’s the first car-sharing program of its kind. No other public library of the size or magnitude of BPL offers a similar service, showcasing the library’s commitment to helping their communities with a range of resources,” said Chris Moulding, Zipcar’s regional community marketing manager.

Some library patrons, citing neighborhood inaccessibility to the subway, wondered why the library didn’t partner with Citi Bike instead, which would be usable by non-drives and kids. “Most of the traveling done by local residents is within the area, generally to the subway or another MTA bus,” said Selema Mohammad, a high school senior from Sheepshead Bay. “Bikes and scooter rentals would be more beneficial.”

But for Kings Bay Library volunteers, the funding that the Zipcar arrangement will bring to the branch reason enough.

“Financially, we’re in a hole,” said Jack Schreiber, a retired senior citizen who has be volunteering at the Kings Bay branch for 17 years. “For me. the bottom line is money. If this partnership can help bring in any extra cash, then I’m all for it.”

In keeping with the practice of naming the library-based Zipcars after literary and pop-culture figures, the two Zipcars available at Kings Bay are named “Joan Rivers” and “Lou Reed.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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