Avatar for jmarkockerbloom
» posted to John Mark Ockerbloom and lsw

There's that "can we have a book rental service that isn't a library" tweet that lots of folks been dunking on, and a small number of librarians have responded to in more of a reference-interview "what are you looking for?" style. I haven't seen the original tweeter respond to any of those, but it made me a bit curious what the original poster might have in mind. Given that she asked for "a great and easy experience, but not a kindle reader", I'm assuming she wants easy access to print books, including those in high demand. Two non-routine ways of doing that, which I've seen different public libraries deal with in various ways, are home delivery and various forms of "express lane" borrowing policies for popular titles. I'm a bit curious to hear what people here think of those practices and how they might be best done (or not).

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For local examples: our city's public library offers home delivery to people who can't easily get out of the house, based on application by phone interview. I don't think they offer it to anyone else. For popular best-sellers, some of our local libraries have things like shorter borrowing times, limited or no renewals, and/or limits on how many popular titles can be checked out at once. And a few suburban libraries also have copies of books that patrons can pay $1 to check out for a week.

 ‎· John Mark Ockerbloom
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I've refused to borrow the "pay $1" titles, even though I could easily do so without any hardship, since public libraries charging for access just rubs me the wrong way on principle. I do admit that charging for convenience (e.g. a paid home delivery service for people who could get out of the house but who'd prefer not ) doesn't seem as bad to me as charging for access, though the line between one and the other can be blurry enough that I don't know if would be practical even if there were enough rich folks happy to spend a few dollars to have library books delivered to their door to make such a service self-supporting. What do others think?

 ‎· John Mark Ockerbloom
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I wonder about the economics of partnering with e.g. a food-delivery service, in areas that have such things. (Madtown has, like, three, though that's partly because one of them is headquartered here.) Taxi services may also have delivery services. Could that be more workable than the library trying to gin up a driving service on its own?

 ‎· LibSkrat
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^ It might well be, and I could easily see even more informal arrangements like an enterprising teen picking up things for their neighbors. Though whether it's done freelance or by a company, some public libraries might need to adjust their loan policies to accommodate what's effectively borrowing by proxy.

 ‎· John Mark Ockerbloom 1
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^^^^the pay collection often is a thing where the library rents a bunch of best sellers - does a temp batch add to the catalog - and then ships them back when they're no longer popular or get worn out or anything. It's a way to rapidly increase shelf availability without the long term investment. My larger institution has a small collection like this - popular reading books with different check out times, can't request/recall, etc.

 ‎· Christina Pikas 1
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our catalog has a way to have a designate for picking up books. I don't see why this wouldn't work - uber eats > uber library books.

 ‎· Christina Pikas
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Uber is horrible and I'd rather not see libraries use them for similar reasons to why I'd rather not see libraries using Facebook... but that aside, yeah, I think something like this could work.

 ‎· LibSkrat 1
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Uber's also an example of how a company with enough clout can distort markets in bad ways. For an example in this domain, a delivery service might find it profitable with to do with library bestsellers what some scalpers have done with popular event tickets: charge them all out and then offer the "convenience" of a delivered (and also, the only practically available) library copy for a large markup. I'd rather not see that happen.

 ‎· John Mark Ockerbloom 1
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From what I'm reading of the original tweeter (Twit?), I think she might want a rental service. You get a box of books and related activities. Keep them for however long you are interested. When you are done, you put them back in a box with return shipping and a new box with a new theme is sent to you. It's a bit like a clothing subscription service where you get to rent clothing or some of the homegoods subscriptions that are available. Honestly, I don't think it's a sustainable business model in terms of a rental service for books/games/toys. But there are subscription boxes out there that do this sort of thing. The downside is you end up collecting stuff because it's not a rental where you return the items.

 ‎· JiMaSoMA
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Some libraries are offering curb-side service. I think that's as close as we can get to what she might want. But considering she wants an Uber type service for shuttling her kids around, I don't think a library is going to serve her needs. Our service model isn't going to suit the person who is able, but won't make time to physically visit a library.

 ‎· JiMaSoMA
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some publibs have vending machine kinda things where they put your holds. I don't see why you couldn't commission a third party to fetch your stuff from that and then return to the book drop.

 ‎· Christina Pikas 1
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What OldJob did for hot titles was to order some copies for regular 4-week holds-allowed check-outs; other copies were ordered for 7-day no-holds no-renewals check-out. This meant people had a reasonable chance of walking into the New Books room and finding a hot title on the shelf. It seemed to work nicely.

 ‎· bentley
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When OldJob was designing their new building (in 2002?), there was a plan for a while to have lockers outside where people could pick up their holds after hours, but I don't know the reasons why the plan was scrapped.

 ‎· bentley
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We have a Lucky Day collection - copies of bestsellers that are only available in the branch. we don't charge for them. We are also exploring the vending machine option for some of our underserved areas. We also have books-by-mail, but right now it's like the one mentioned above - you have to be homebound or a certain number of miles from a branch. We would love to have it be an option that anyone could pay for as needed/wanted, but there isn't a way to make it work with our ILS. I hear the option may be coming though, at some point?

 ‎· holly
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Firmly opposed to charging for access; not crazy about making it a whole lot easier for people to not interact with human beings in a public place without good reason (lack of transportation, mobility issues, working five part time jobs leaving the patron without an opportunity to visit during open hours are good reasons). Though I admit to checking out ebooks when the library is closed and I'm jonesing for a book, but all of this delivery stuff annoys me for reasons I can't quite articulate other than that it suggests the lives of people trapped in the gig economy are worth less than my precious time. I mean, Walmart is piloting not just delivering groceries but putting them in your refrigerator NO THANK YOU.

 ‎· secret agent Fister 1
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what about having a kiosk or some bookmobile type thingie where people already go -- like the grocery store or the mall? (do people still go to malls?) I think DC has something like this in the Metro.

 ‎· Stephªn1e☀️CogSc1L1brªr1ªn☀️
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how about this from my publib: https://www.nbcwashington.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Short-Story-Dispenser-Provides-Escape-at-the-MVA_Washington-DC-507966712.html

 ‎· Christina Pikas
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I don't know about most publibs, but we require a signed form for proxy borrowing, and anybody checking out materials has to show some kind of ID or have the actual library card to use self-check. There would have to be a work around for third-party pickups. I guess you could provide a service where a patron could call the library and have materials checked out and packaged for pickup by a courier, but my pharmacy tech days tell me this will cause a lot of extra staff labor to be budgeted.

 ‎· kaijsa
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^^^ I hesitate at the thought of libraries getting into the "who really deserves delivery?" business. Do it for all or do it for none, IMO. (See also: easier to win political support for non-targeted services.)

 ‎· LibSkrat
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I wonder how much proxy check out is being changed by having apps with images of our cards/records of our cards. I don't even get out my library card half the time anymore even though it's in my wallet. It's in the EPL app and I just pull that up. Add that to self-check especially and...

 ‎· hedgielib
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^^ OldJob does monthly "homebound delivery." https://www.gailborden.info/services/478-homebound-services

 ‎· bentley
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Most of the libraries for people who are print disabled do mailing automatically (ours only added a physical reading room last year! Before that, they didn't even have space for people to drop by if they wanted to.) There are options for either "This is the book I want" (and waiting if necessary for a copy to come back) or "Here is stuff I like, send me some of that", and of course for many people with print disabilities, travel is also more complex and challenging anyway. My local library (metro Boston) does homebound delivery; fill out a form, tell them if it's permanent or temporary, and what kinds of things you like reading. Delivered by volunteers, it looks like.

 ‎· Jen Arnott
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Before my mom was full time in a nursing home we inquired with her publib about homebound services. Unfortunately not available.

 ‎· Christina Pikas
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If people want to fund libraries better, I think you could have mail delivery services to almost anyone. But you have to put the horse in front of that cart. It takes staff and money.

 ‎· JiMaSoMA 2
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I lived in Boulder in 2000, which seems a million years a go now. They had just the one branch, downtown,and parking was free in their lot and therefore an impossibility. They had a service then that mailed out library books, and they had book drops all over town. It seemed an expensive endeavor at the time, but now I realize it was much less expensive than building adequate parking or a less central branch. I always liked the way they set that up.

 ‎· Rudibrarian 1
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Less expensively, my local system, like many, allows us to have books pulled from where they are to a branch for pick up. I love that. I want three books that are housed in different branches? No problem, I get them all sent to my local branch, and it's a 5 minute trip. Book return outside makes returning them a 5 minute trip as well.

 ‎· Rudibrarian
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I saw the twitter post, and have been bothered by the "modern" comment (left out of the post here). Not a library, something modern. What does that even mean???

 ‎· Rudibrarian 1
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@Stephªn1e☀️CogSc1L1brªr1ªn☀️ My local branch is in a mall.

 ‎· Rudibrarian
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I'm not sure about the modern part of it. That implies the person isn't that familiar with all the amenities a library has to offer, maybe. But I'm not sure that's what meant. My library does the thing were you can get books delivered to your closest branch. They have a large number of branches in the system, which makes that a nice service.

 ‎· JiMaSoMA 1

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