Monday, October 25, 2010

Library Vending Machines

Image: Library Vending Machine by Joe Gratz

Conor Dougherty in Wall Street Journal's article "New Library Technologies Dispense With Librarians" writes about the use of vending machines which dispense library materials.

Instead of focusing on positioning these machines as librarian/library replacements, we should view these as user-centric models for the delivery of physical materials, at any time, in locations that may be more convenient to the library's patrons.

Librarians already provide services through non-human interaction (e.g. reader services online), and, at least in my community, reserves are a non-human transaction (from selection to pickup). Furthermore, library vending machines in non-traditional places like grocery stores are an exiting way to increase the library's service & marketing footprint.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

ULC's Top Innovations 2010

Image: ULC 2010 Top Innovations Cover

If you haven't seen it yet, check out Urban Library Council's 2010 Top Innovations (PDF).

ULC's panel of judges reviewed over 200 entries and selected 12 programs "based on their innovation, results achieved, and capacity to be replicated in other libraries."

If I were to pick a favorite, I would probably choose San Francisco Public Library's Green Stacks program. The program successfully interweaves sustainability, education, and community. I'm intreagued by the idea of the library as a conduit for local knowledge moving from patron to patron through the use of community gardening. This idea of harvesting community knowledge has also been discussed by CML's Helene Blowers.

[Note: Full Disclosure. My employer has worked with ULC in the past and the principal of my firm **gasp** gave me the printed version of ULC's document because she thought I'd like it. She was right.]