Tuesday, March 04, 2008

In California, a New ATM for Books Debuts

Lynn Blumenstein -- Library Journal, 2/26/2008

  • Machine at transit station
  • Up to 400 books
  • It started in Sweden

Self-service gets a boost with the nation’s first Library-a-Go-Go machine, to be installed in April in a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) location, before the fare gate, thanks to the Contra Costa County Library (CCCL), Pleasant Hill. CCCL plans four stand-alone dispensing units around the county, part of a model program funded by the California State Library, Bay Area Library Consortium, and Baker & Taylor.

The Library-a-Go-Go units, which cost about $100,000 each, come from the Swedish company Distec (source of the photo) and were noticed by a former CCCL staffer in a Stockholm library. Totally operational with an integrated library system, CCCL deputy county librarian Cathy Sanford told LJ, the unit connects to a library network, authenticates library cards, and records real-time transactions.

Depending on the type of book stocked in the machine, each freestanding unit, which measures approximately 8'6.5"h x 4'9.5"w x 3'9.5"d, can hold 270–400 books. Patrons use a touch screen similar to a bank ATM to choose from a list of genres. Once a library card is authenticated, a robotic arm delivers the book, which is encased in a hard plastic cover. Books can be returned to the same machine and are made instantly available to other patrons; each transaction generates a receipt. While CCCL will stock the BART location with adult and YA fiction and nonfiction titles, a Library-a-Go-Go to be placed in a shopping center will include children’s materials.

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