The American Library Association’s motto is “The best reading, for the largest number, at the least cost.”  In the digital age, the unwritten motto for librarians is “Get Creative.”  The Trenton Free Public Library in New Jersey has brought both of those mottos to life with the new Library Outposts that opened this year.

Get Creative

In 2010, as a result of the recession, the library’s budget was cut in half.  The Trenton Library was forced to close four branches, keeping only the main branch.  This cut drastically reduced the library’s accessibility to its patrons. The staff got creative about finding a solution.  They wanted to increase engagement despite the reduced budget.

Kimberly Matthews, Executive Director of the Trenton Free Public Library, remembered using a locker system at a library in San Francisco years ago.  Kimberly and her team researched options and gleaned ideas from a library conference.  Eventually, they came up with the idea of a Library Outpost – an extension of the main library branch into the community.

The best reading

Kimberly and her team decided to build the Outposts using LEID’s electronic storage lockers as well as a library vending machine from Public Information Kiosk, Inc. LEID’s electronic locker system allows customers to order any book from the library’s main branch and pick it up from the locker using the keypad and their library card.  The vending machine, stocked with popular titles in a variety of genres, offers customers spur of the moment choices.

The two products complement each other.  Kimberly says, “The library vending machine is like having a snack vending machine; the choices are limited. But offering LEID’s electronic locker system is like adding grocery delivery – patrons can select from the entire library’s offering and have it delivered to a location convenient for pick up!”

For the largest number

Kimberly and her team chose to create these Library Outposts in locations that are convenient for the community.  These Library Outposts meet the community where they are.  The first was installed in a YMCA building.  The second was installed in the Mercer Professional Center, which houses medical offices and related family services.  The response has been overwhelming and positive. The Mayor, the City Council President, and the Board of Trustees Chair attended the ribbon cutting.  The announcement of the second Outpost was by far the library’s most popular Facebook post over the last year.  Two more Outposts have been planned for additional locations.

At the least cost

Kimberly and her team secured the funding for this project through a grant from a community development fund.  After the initial outlay for equipment, the Outposts are run at a very minimal cost.  “The quality of LEID’s electronic lockers is superior,” Kimberly said. “The sturdy and durable construction ensures the electronic locker system will be secure and endure heavy usage.”

We wish the City of Trenton many happy years of reading!

Trenton Library Outpost Electronic Demo

City Council President Zachery Chester and Mayor Eric Jackson demonstrate LEID’s electronic locker system.

Mayor models electronic lockers

Mayor Eric Jackson retrieves his book from the electronic locker.

Kimberly models vending machine

Executive Director Kimberly Matthews has the vending machine ready for the ribbon cutting

Mayor models vending machine

Mayor Eric Jackson demonstrates the library vending machine

Trenton Library Outpost Ribbon Cutting

All ready for Board of Trustee Chair, Crystal Smith to cut the ribbon!

City Councilman models electronic lockers

City Council President Zachery Chester uses the Access.it keypad

Councilman models vending machine

City Council President Zachery Chester selects a book from the vending machine.

Community gathers for ribbon cutting

Celebrating the opening of a new library outpost

Community gathers near electronic lockers

Community gathers near the electronic lockers to celebrate the LIbrary Outpost opening.