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Library lockers are gaining popularity among readers

12.08.2021 | Cleveron, Cleveron 351, Library locker
Estonians love to read. When the COVID-19 virus started to spread, most public venues and stores had to close their doors, including libraries. But the smarter ones found a way how to be there for their community. Today, several libraries across Estonia have introduced their library parcel lockers. Among others, the Pärnu Central Library has also done so, the readers of which have warmly received this service. A library locker is an effective way to hand over borrowed books quickly and without human contact.

Last year in December Päru Central Library took their own book locker into use. “During the first wave of COVID-19, many of our readers did not receive information that, despite the special situation, it is still possible to borrow books. We were better prepared for the second wave of the virus, and a book locker was a great help here, where readers received the desired books easily and without human contact,” explained Marina Jantson, chief service specialist of Pärnu Central Library. The coronavirus crisis did not bring about any notable changes in the number of readers of the library; their number has slightly decreased over the years. However, looking at the content of the works loaned, librarians can see that people have time to commit to what they read. “There is no big increase in the interest in reading, who did not read before the restrictions, did not start to do so during the restrictions. However, we noticed that people also found older literature using the self-service environment and ordered more valuable literature. We find that this change was because readers had more time to delve into what they read,” Jantson discussed.

Flexible service
As the outdoor locker is accessible 24 hours a day, it gives readers the freedom to choose when to pick up the works. “Readers have very well received the possibility of using a bookcase. We already have several regular customers who always want to receive their reserved books from the locker. The outdoor vending machine allows readers to plan their time more flexibly; receiving books is no longer related to the library's opening hours,” said Jantson. “A large number of people come and pick up their orders around eight or nine o’clock in the evening and on the weekends when the library is closed.”

Receiving borrowed books also became more accessible for those who do not have the opportunity to come on their own. Since the readers can pick up the books from the outdoors locker with a code that comes as a message, they can forward the code to someone who will collect the books from the book-locker. “Before, those who could not come themselves had to call the library in advance and announce whom they would send for their books. Now all you have to do is to pass the locker code,” said Jantson. The locker helps to save time and is convenient to use.

The growing popularity of the library locker
The more time passes, the more works readers order in the library locker. The Pärnu Central Library issues an average of 24 book packages per day. Marina Jantson said that in December 2020 and February 2021, they produced almost 300 book packages per month but in March and April almost 600. “On some days, we open the online administration program very often to see if any of the cabinets have been vacated by previous customers because the finished book packages are waiting in line.” The average time to pick up books in Pärnu Central Library is 12 hours, i.e. the reader generally takes the books from the locker during the same day when librarians insert those there. However, the record for picking up a book package is two minutes.

What does the future hold?
Marina Jantson, the chief service specialist of Pärnu Central Library, is optimistic about the future: “The ordering of publications in the library locker will continue. People value their time, and using an outdoor locker will save it. Especially now that there is an obligation to wear a mask indoors, it is much more convenient and enjoyable to follow books in the fresh air.” A parcel machine is the library’s additional service that makes book borrowing even more convenient. “The book locker certainly does not reduce the number of visitors to the library; it brings more readers to the library. People are very different; some are good for visiting and discovering, others know what they want, and the best option for them is an outdoor locker,” explained Jantson.

In Pärnu Central Library, the book locker has been in use for almost half a year. Jantson admits that its use has been easy and smooth for both library staff and readers: “The administration of the locker is quite simple, so there have been no significant problems. There have been only a few mistakes on a couple of occasions, such as forgetting to set the cabinet size or not adding the reader's phone number, but these are easy to fix. "

Cleveron 351 is a compact outdoor parcel vending machine by Estonian technology company Cleveron. The company has created this parcel machine for small and medium-sized companies and institutions. Cleveron 351 is easy to install and deploy; one person can do this. The locker arrives as a fully assembled unit, and it includes the necessary software, which makes deployment even quicker. The software doesn't require expensive and lengthy integrations. After a couple of simple steps, the APM is ready to use. The librarians can manage the locker from a web-based self-service, where they can formalise the sending of parcels, monitor package movement and monitor statistics. Cleveron 351 parcel machines can be purchased individually and as the parcel volumes grow, it is possible to add extra modules to the main module.


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