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Vending machine dispenses books, DVDs at 'Library Express'

By: BARBARA COTTER
February 17, 2011
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photo - A swipe of a valid library card from Pikes Peak Library District will get you up to two books and two DVDs from a vending machine at a new unstaffed location called Library Express. The facility, which also has a drop-off slot for library materials, is next to the Cinemark theaters in the First & Main Town Center on Powers Boulevard.  Photo by JERILEE BENNETT, The Gazette
A swipe of a valid library card from Pikes Peak Library District will get you up to two books and two DVDs from a vending machine at a new unstaffed location called Library Express. The facility, which also has a drop-off slot for library materials, is next to the Cinemark theaters in the First & Main Town Center on Powers Boulevard. Photo by JERILEE BENNETT, The Gazette 

Holy shades of Redbox!

The Pikes Peak Library District has opened its own version of the popular DVD vending service in a small, unstaffed space next to the Cinemark movie theaters on Powers Boulevard.

The vending machine, which occupies a space dubbed Library Express, spits out hardbacks, paperbacks and DVDs with the swipe of a library card.

It opened Monday, so library officials don’t have a sense of how popular the service will be. But PPLD Executive Director Paula Miller said it’s a way to tap into the busy Powers Boulevard corridor.

“We currently have no library locations or outlet on Powers,” she said. “There’s a huge population in that area, and we have wanted to serve that area for years.”

She said PPLD officials had hoped to get land or a building donated to open a full-service branch in the area, but nothing has materialized. However, she said, Nor’wood Development Group offered to donate a small space in its First & Main Town Center complex to house Library Express, which also has a drop-off slot for all library materials, no matter where they were checked out.

“It’s a beginning,” Miller said.

Carolyn Coulter, PPLD’s information and virtual services officer, said the machine cost $19,250 and can be configured in a number of ways. PPLD has configured it to hold about 310 objects — 125 DVDs, 143 paperbacks and 40 hardbacks — that are selected by library staff. Like candy arrayed in rows in a typical vending machine, the library materials are visible through a big window.

“We’re trying to select the most popular reading and viewing items, so that no matter when you are there, hopefully there is something you’d be interested in,” Miller said.

The kiosk is open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily — far more hours than PPLD’s full-service locations. But checkouts are limited to two books and two DVDs at a time, and people can keep the books for only seven days, and the DVDs for three.

Miller said PPLD officials are considering placing other kiosks in the region, though no locations have been determined yet.

“This is a little bit of a beta for us, so we will see how this goes, and how usage picks up. As with every entity, we’re limited by funds available, so we can only do a certain amount at a time.”

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