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The Toronto Public Library is studying the idea of installing an automated kiosk at Union Station, where patrons could borrow a book with the simple swipe of their library cards at any time of day.
It’s not a new concept — these machines have been in place in Europe and in the United States — but the idea is slowly gaining steam in Canada.
Earlier this year, the library board agreed to investigate the idea of installing one of these self-service kiosks, in part because it would create a visible presence in a busy hub that is being renovated. By 2016, 330,000 passengers are projected to pass through the station daily.
“They look like vending machines that can hold books, paperbacks, hard covers, CDs and DVDs,” said Anne Bailey, director of branch libraries for the Toronto Public Library. A simple touch screen allows borrowers to see what in the machine.
“We’re often asked for service in locations where we wouldn’t want to put a branch. This might be a way to offer some level of service in a cost-effective manner.”
The cost for a single library kiosk and related collections is estimated at about $200,000 plus additional ongoing operating costs of about $15,000 a year. A branch library could cost millions.
Does your library, or a library that you know of have an off-site kiosk? How are things working out for them?