Friday, December 19, 2008


The public library system is great, offering every book free of charge. One of its only drawbacks is that you have to physically go to the location to pick up a book, and with today’s busy schedules, it can be a real burden. In the same vein, because most people share this dilemma of when-can-I-get-to-the-library-next, it has a ripple effect on all users, making turnovers longer and causing delays on reservations, late charges, etc.

The Idea: public library delivery.

Public library delivery would be an extension of the online systems currently used by most libraries. Users would be able to log on, search for titles, and reserve them - but, instead of having to go to the library to get them, they could elect to have them delivered to their home or office for a nominal fee; on the same note, people could also schedule a delivery pick-up for those which are due. Ideally, the user would schedule one delivery, where they would receive their new books and hand off their old ones which need to be returned. Opponents may argue that one of the defining qualities of a library, and the most attractive, is that it costs nothing; while true, paying for a delivery service would still be much cheaper than paying for the actual book. Further, such a service would complement the current system of picking up books, not replace it, so the user would still be able to choose which method they prefer.

Numerous benefits would result from public library delivery. It would create added revenue for the libraries, which could be put towards the system's infrastructure, as well as lighten the burden for taxpayers. It would create jobs, as branches would need to hire additional people to make the deliveries. And lastly, it would make the system more efficient and foster a quicker turnover, since people would no longer have to schedule a trip to the local branch to receive/return their books.

Public library delivery would even be beneficial for the environment. Rather than many vehicles traveling to and from the library, only a few vehicles would be needed to get people their books. And where feasible, bicycles (similar to those used for takeout - think Upper Crust Pizza delivery) could be used to completely eliminate the use of fossil fuel.

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