Monthly Archives: March 2019

Vending Machines Now Offering Books

After two separate articles about book vending machines appeared in my email, I decided to find out more about this trend. I had questions about how these machines are being filled, who is choosing the materials, and how often are the collections being replenished.

The articles that I read indicated that the majority of the books and materials being offered in these machines are geared toward younger readers, rather than adults. Some accommodate DVDs as well as books. A few of the machines seem to be located in areas that have been described as “book deserts”, or areas where there is no other access to these types of materials. The new machine in Spokane, Washington is located in a community center in a neighborhood that does not have a nearby library.

Other machines are located near, or inside, library buildings. In Evanston, Illinois the vending machine is a temporary measure to fill in for the new library branch that is under construction.

The machine in Lafayette, Indiana is also located near a library. Its location is intended to provide access to library materials 24/7 in order to accommodate people who work late shifts and other people who want to check out a book after hours.

In Buffalo, New York there is even a book vending machine inside an elementary school that allows kids to earn tokens and choose books for themselves. Sounds fun to me!

The most comprehensive article I found was published online in Urban Education. Two researchers studied the use of book vending machines in Detroit, Michigan and Anacostia, D.C. over the course of a summer. Their research revealed many interesting facts about the types of materials that were most often selected by the users of these machines. Their research also found that adult support was a strong factor in improving reading test scores among the young readers they studied. A short summary is available in the first article. The full text of the research paper may be available online through your library’s databases.
Neuman, S. B., & Knapczyk, J. J. (2018). Reaching families where they are: Examining an innovative book distribution program. Urban Educationdoi: 10.1177/0042085918770722

I was surprised to see how many locations have turned to the vending machine concept to provide materials and 24/7 access to books and other library materials. Some of the articles referred to these machines as 21st century bookmobiles, serving a population that has become used to constant access to materials at any time of day or night. Will this become a wider trend in libraries and will we see them in Ohio in the near future?

Jill Baird, Mansfield-Richland County Public Library

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The Constant Cataloger

You’ve heard it before.  From Heraclitus.  “The only thing that is constant is change.”

Despite all the conventions and standards of cataloging, it is essential to approach our work with a constant affirmation that libraries are changing; access to information is changing; and, search behaviors are changing.

Especially vexing is the realization that change is happening faster than ever.  There are many minds with inspired ideas. More information is being generated than ever before. Technical innovation is flourishing, and, communication methods are transforming.  So, for a cataloger, it’s a challenge to sustain a historically rich and meaningful database of library records that will be utilized in a relevant way.

Persistently bringing this challenge into the cataloger’s everyday workflow is a necessary practice. It means always looking forward and establishing priorities.  It means staying engaged, informed and energetic.  It means sharing cataloging practices, both general and local. Decisions must be made mindfully. It’s a lot.

But remember, “the sun is new each day.”  Also, Heraclitus.

Fortunately, there are some especially bright days ahead, that you won’t want to miss!  This year, the OLC Convention and Expo will be held September 25-27, 2019, in Cincinnati. It promises to be a great opportunity to be invigorated.  Also, you can look forward to the 2020 OLC Technical Services Retreat next spring. Details will be forthcoming.

Rise and shine!

Gayle Martinez, Toledo Lucas County Public Library

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