Chicago Public libraries are considering a Redbox approach to increasing their circulation. The library is suggesting placing book vending machines in well traveled locations throughout the city, mostly L stops. Patrons can check materials out at one machine and return it at any other machine.
I think this is genius. In the vein of a bookmobile, it’s bringing materials to your patrons when your patrons cannot come to you. We usually think of that service for those with limitations like a handicap or older adults who don’t have means to make it to the library. But why not reach out to those users who just can’t find time in their day to make it to the library when they are open?
This is particularly on point considering how many libraries have been cutting hours during this economic downturn.
Putting these readboxes near public transportation stops makes the most sense. You pick up a book as you wait for your train and you can read it on your commute. If I lived in a city where I could take a train (I can’t read on a bus. I get sick) I would be begging my local library to implement this system.
We see Redboxes outside grocery stores and McDonald’s. Why not put a readbox in those places too? How about partnering with coffee shops to provide customers with instant reading material. Libraries are installing coffee shops in their buildings to entice patrons. Why not bring books to coffee buyers? I loathe the idea of combining forces with Starbucks, but let’s be honest, they’re everywhere. You could have library boxes everywhere, too.
The article mentions that London already has implemented a similar idea at the airport. While recently flying, I saw our airports had a library-type system in place. Customers could purchase a book and return it to any of the same stores at any airport and they could get a discount on their next book. Libraries could EAT THIS UP.
The big picture part of me is super excited about the idea. The logical, reasonable person thinks of the logistical nightmare this might be. But while some libraries have a “floating collection” where books are not assigned to a specific branch, why not try something like this?