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Innovative library services “in the wild”

30 January 2013

From Pew Internet, by Kathryn Zickuhr

Our new report takes a close look not only at how Americans are using public libraries, but also what sort of services and programming they think libraries should offer — and what they say they would use in the future…

For this last point, we asked about a range of potential offerings, including online “ask a librarian”-type research service, mobile library apps, library kiosks in the community, and pre-loaded e-readers available for checkout….

…we also wanted to include illustrations of some of these more innovative services, to see what they look like on the ground. To that end, we’ve collected examples of many of the types of services mentioned in the report, as well as some “fun and funky” services that we’ve seen pop up at libraries across the county….

Technology “Petting Zoo”

The Kent Free Library in Ohio “has hosted ‘Technology Petting Zoos’ to give patrons and community members a chance to have hands-on interaction with a variety of tablets and e-readers. In the library’s meeting room, 12 different devices are available to try out with a librarian on hand to explain their features and detail the differences between various devices.”

“Redbox”-style library kiosks and outreach services

“In 2008, the Contra Costa County Library [in California] launched ‘Library-a-Go-Go,’ the first automated book dispensing machines in the country. The machines hold up to 400 books which can be browsed from a touch screen. The book dispensaries at available 24/7 and operate like ATM machines with a swipe of a library card to dispense books. Users can have up to three books checked out at a time and return the books to the Library-a-Go-Go machines.”…

Libraries as incubators and creation spaces

The Library as Incubator Project“highlights the ways that libraries and artists can work together, and works to strengthen these partnerships. At a time in which both libraries and arts organizations are often having to do more with less, it makes sense for these two parts of our culture to support each other….

Musical Instrument Check-Out Program – Lopez Island (Wash.) Library

  • “The Lopez Island Library offers a collection of musical instruments available for patron checkout. All the items come with carrying cases, tuners, and how-to guides, and a practice amplifier for the electric guitar. The items circulate for 28 days, like other library items.”…

LibraryFarm – Northern Onondaga (N.Y.) Public Library

  • “The LibraryFarm is an organic community garden on one-half acre of land owned by Northern Onondaga Public Library in Cicero, NY. Anyone can ‘check out’ a plot for no cost. Its purpose is to teach and learn ‘food literacy,’ as well as to preserve knowledge that our grandparents might have had but that never got passed down, and to provide fresh organic produce for local food pantries.”…

Telescopes – “The Portland Public Library, Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick and Raymond Village Library in Maine offer telescope checkout for patrons. As part of the program, local astronomy clubs, who serve as the caretakers for the telescopes, host sky gazing parties, sidewalk events and other programs at libraries on how to use the telescope and how to look at the night sky.”…


The full article is at Innovative library services “in the wild”


4 Comments to “Innovative library services “in the wild””

  1. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that people want all sorts of things for free and feel tax payers need to provide them.

  2. Tech Petting Zoo is kind of awesome…

    • I know, ABeth, I loved that as well. Also the loan of musical instruments. How often does a kid whine that they want to play the guitar only to get one and discover they actually aren’t interested? This is a great way to try it out. I love the idea of “library” as community resource, and knowledge as something more than simply what is found in bound books.

  3. I have worked in libraries all my adult life and love the innovation and creativity they can foster. The programs that the article discussed are amazing and provide a rich environment for their people. In Oklahoma I know at least one library using the Tech Petting Zoo for patrons but the state library also uses the idea to help teach librarians across the state how to use various ereaders, tablets and other gadgets out there so that we can better help our patrons. I haven’t attended one yet but so far have been able to keep afloat because my patrons are very patient – I am a Kindle and Samsung Galaxy Tab person so the Kindle Fire, Nook, Sony, Ipad and more segment give me a little extra time to figure things out!

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