King County Library System (KCLS) has been getting quite a bit of attention the last few days for its staffless library branch.
It started on LJ – http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6710470.html –
“So, how to expand library service on a tight budget? Some libraries have tried vending machines (such as the Go Library/Library-a-Go-Go) or kiosks. The King County Library System (KCLS), WA, just opened an unstaffed 300-square-foot Library Express @ Redmond Ridge, in partnership with the Redmond Ridge Residential Owners Association.
“The new mini-branch was inspired by a survey of community residents; some 95 percent said they would rather pick up their holds in a nearby unstaffed library than drive to a full-service library. Redmond Ridge is a 1,228-unit master-planned community.”
Got picked up by the Librarian in Black who made some interesting remarks (and people left some interesting comments) – http://librarianinblack.net/librarianinblack/2009/12/stafflesslibrary.html –
“It raises the question–what makes a library a library? And not just because there aren’t live staff there. There is not a full browsing collection of materials, no internet-enabled computers, no wifi, no rooms to read or study in, no programs, etc. If someone said “Either you shut down this facility entirely, or take this $40,000 to install security cameras & a door lock and keep it open as a holds-pickup station,” of course I’d take the money and have something rather than nothing. But I truly, truly wonder how much this facility actually saves…and what its true cost is in the neighborhood they serve.”
And made its way over to The ‘M’ Word – http://themwordblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/thoughts-on-unstaffed-library-express.html –
“From a marketing POV, this is a winner … the library system did exactly what this target audience asked for: opened an “unstaffed library” right in the community. It’s sure to be used b/c it fills a specific desire for these patrons. And for that I say, Bravo, King County!”
It’s an interesting debate, and some nice national attention for KCLS.
What do you think? Is a library a library without any staff? And if your community asks for it, does that necessarily and absolutely mean that you should give it to them? Is this a good or negative trend for other libraries to follow?