“Search, click and you have your book in hand in a day or two.”
What am I describing here? A library? An online bookstore? Or something else? That quote came from the article Why Don’t Public Libraries Deliver? The author loves using his D.C. Public Library’s online catalog to find and request a book, and have it delivered to his local neighborhood branch to pick up. This is a pretty common service at many (most?) public libraries today. (Granted, depending on the book, and the number of copies a library owns, and the number of people ahead of you on the waiting list, you may not get it in “a day or two!” But I think he is simplifying.)
He adds that “[t]he whole experience feels a lot like Amazon Prime,” and then goes on to muse:
It got me to thinking: Why doesn’t the library team up with somebody with real expertise in the logistics of home delivery — Amazon, UPS or one of the many food delivery services that have sprung up over the past year or so — to figure out a way to cover “the last mile” — the journey from the library to my house and back again? Then it really would seem even more like Amazon Prime, and I can’t imagine that that wouldn’t help grow the market for library books.
Now, don’t jump on the naysayer bandwagon! (If you want to find some naysayers to agree with, just read the comments at the end of article.) Isn’t this something libraries could think about? Is it even possible? Could they charge for the extra service? (In Wisconsin, we have to be careful, because we are restricted by a 1984 Attorney General opinion that public libraries cannot charge patrons for “library service,” but can charge for “ancillary services.” It would be interesting to see whether delivery would be considered “ancillary.”) I think it makes some sense to investigate if such a service might be useful and popular. After all, it is our job to serve our communities, and if it’s something they want, why not?
Later in the Post article the author adds that he’s learned that a few libraries do deliver: apparently, Miami-Dade Public Library System, and the Orange County Public Library System in Orlando, FL. And a reader adds her local library, Lake County (FL) in the comments. This seems true for Orange County, but for the other two it appears to be available only for those with disabilities:
(And then, that isn’t so unique. Lots of libraries provide delivery for those that certify that they cannot physically visit the library.)
Anyway, think about it. Would you like your books mailed to you when they’re ready? Heck, I only walk a few blocks to pick up my books, and I wouldn’t mind!