Smallest branch…big result

With 37 libraries spread over the beautifully wild Aberdeenshire countryside serving the sixth most-populous Scottish council area keeping the library service running smoothly is a bit of a challenge.

But when one of the more isolated libraries was due to close for refurbishment the managers found an interesting way to meet this challenge.

The opportunity

The closure of the Banff library would bring great benefits to the users; doubling the size, installation of a lift along with energy-efficient lighting and heaters as well as an upgrade of the electrics and security systems throughout, new furniture and IT upgrade. However, in the short term the closure would be a big disappoint for the regular library users.

Looking for a solution the management team found an opportunity when they saw 2CQR’s Smallest Branch vending kiosk at a library conference. 2CQR, library self-service and security provider, have a strong presence in Scotland and a reputation for delivering library solutions across a wide range of situations. The Smallest library is an RFID vending unit accessed by users via their library card and features; check–in, check-out, touch screen pin code entry, receipt printing: title and return date, returns notified to staff, lending traffic fed back to LMS with reporting and remote control available.

Great site for a vending kiosk

Following a demonstration the council could see the kiosk working to cover their problem with the library closure. They had the perfect site for the unit in the Deveron community centre. A short walk from the library the community centre is a modern facility comprising; swimming pool, comprehensive sports centre with sauna and steam rooms, a learning suite, community rooms and café.

The more they considered the proposal to site the unit here the more they could see this as an opportunity, not only to serve their existing users during the library closure but to reach new potential library users.

With the unit ready, the library team prepared promotional material and planned visits to promote the unit. They prepared “how to use” graphics and mounted them to the unit. They also mounted an ipad on the unit to display an edited 2CQR’s Smallest branch video, that demonstrate how the unit would be used specifically with the Aberdeenshire Library Card.

“We would love to have more of the Smallest Branches, not only to cover library closures but to extend our reach into…. say, post offices, shops, anywhere where we can help and gather more library users.”

Success and future opportunities

With the library closed for the refurbishment, existing users directed to the Community Centre’s Smallest Branch, the management team were also keen to maximize the possibilities of the new audience in the community centre. The kiosk stands in the main foyer by the café and its fresh green finish and see-through front, displaying up to 175 books, proved an attractive and intriguing point of interest. With high footfall, across many different ages, Gavin Leggat, Systems Manager could see great potential “It has been a very worthwhile experience spending time in the centre promoting the kiosk and observing the users and the potential. Families visiting together, parents waiting for children to finish lessons or events, and general visitors…they are all potential library users and the kiosk has attracted a great deal of interest” Putting some figures to the observations Gavin continued “ We have had over 150 visits, with over 40 different users in the period of the library closure. However the exciting thing we have seen is the interest generated by the kiosk.”

Although the Smallest Branch is remaining in the Devreron Community Centre for now, with Ballater Library due for a refurbishment, the branch may be on the move.

Gavin was enthusiastic “We would love to have more of the Smallest Branches, not only to cover library closures but to extend our reach into…. say, post offices, shops, anywhere where we can help and gather more library users.”

Gavin Leggat, Aberdeenshire Libraries Systems Manager demonstrates 2CQR’s Smallest Branch at Deveron Community Centre