Having closed their doors in March due to the Coronavirus pandemic, UK libraries remain closed until further notice. We asked the question;
How will library services look when the doors re-open?
Social Distancing Measures
The most obvious step is implementing social distancing in libraries, as we are now getting used to seeing in our supermarkets and pharmacies. This challenge will vary greatly depending on the size and footfall of each individual library. One way to make this easier is to consider the layout of your library, to maximise the floor space available to patrons inside your library. It may also help to minimise the floor space used by furniture and equipment.
D-Tech’s new range of self-checkout facilities minimises floor space without compromising on the quality of service offered to patrons.
Self-Service Checkout Technology
Another evident way is to avoid contact at the point of transaction, e.g. checkouts and returns.
Self-service kiosks are well established in many libraries, providing a variety of benefits. In normal circumstances, one of these benefits is giving library staff more time to engage with patrons, as they are able to assist with digital technology, reading choices and any other of the myriad activities offered by a modern library. However, in the current climate, a major benefit of self-service kiosks is their ability to reduce interaction between library patrons and staff. The use of self-service technology allows libraries to make every transaction contactless, from checkouts and returns to payments.
D-Tech’s new range of self-service checkout kiosks are now available and in libraries.
Contactless Device Lending
Books aren’t the only feature of a modern library. Today’s libraries often act as an information hub for users of all ages, and a huge part of that is access to technology.
However, a traditional bank of desktop computers is not the ideal solution for social distancing, often placed well within 2 metres of each other. Issuing laptops, and other portable devices such as tablets and iPads, instead allows your library users to access learning via technology at a safe distance from each other. But how do your staff distribute devices from a safe distance?
Laptop loan lockers, such as D-Tech’s computeIT, allows library users to borrow laptops and tablets directly from the unit using their library, student or staff ID card. Plus, computeIT operates as a secure storage and charging location for devices that are not in use.
Find out more about D-Tech’s computeIT range of self-service laptop and device lockers.
Contactless? Haven’t I heard that before?
And finally, we couldn’t talk about contactless library services without mentioning contactless payments.
Including Apple Pay™ and Google Pay (formerly known as Android Pay), 69% cent of UK adults now use contactless payments and one in 10 have even gone completely cashless. Which makes contactless payment facilities crucial for today’s library, for patrons to pay library charges, including late fees and loan fees for some multi-media items such as CDs, audiobooks and DVDs.
It’s worth noting that, deemed the safest way to pay, the limit for contactless payments increased from £30 to £45 on the 1st April this year. A positive step, although the average patron might struggle to rack up £45 in a library – that’s a lot of late fines!
D-Tech’s new serveIT range includes multiple options for payment of fines and fees, including contactless payments.
Do doors even need to re-open to operate a library service?
The technology to facilitate the completely contactless borrowing and returning of books is already here. With the capability to operate outside your library walls, external borrowing solutions can allow libraries to re-start their physical lending services without the need to re-open the doors.
External Library Lending
Libraries with external borrowing and return facilities already in place will have a head start on re-starting library services for their patrons.
holdIT is a self-service reservations kiosk which provides your patrons with secure access to library materials. Using holdIT, your patrons can borrow any reserved books and other media without interacting with any library staff, using their library card.
lendIT is similar in concept to holdIT, with a very notable difference. lendIT is a vending machine for library books, which allows your library users to peruse your catalogue, just as they would your shelves, before selecting their items using an easy-to-use touch screen. Patrons access the kiosk using their library or ID card, and lendIT even has optional payment functionality.
Find out more:
How do I return a book without going to the library?
returnIT is our fully automated book return system which can be installed either internally or outside your library walls to open your library for returns around the clock. returnIT integrates with your library management system, updating user records whether items are returned at midday or midnight, and sorts items into categories for easy processing by staff. Plus, when combined with our lendIT or holdIT systems, delivers a full contactless library lending service for your patrons to access without ever having to enter the library.