Netflix for library books at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library

One of the respondents of the OCLC perceptions survey urged libraries to look at ways to deliver books by mail. That person needs to move to Topeka and Shawnee! From the Superpatron:

David Lee King writes in his article The Missing Piece of the Library Netflix Model

Previously, I have posted a little about Netflix and how libraries could use the model in a similar way (mainly riffing off Michael Porter’s great posts about Netflix). And then I switched jobs.

And guess what? In my first two weeks at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, I kept hearing things about mailings. And holds. And mailing holds. It finally clicked, and I asked “wait a sec. You mean we mail stuff to patrons?”

Can you guess what the answer was? Yes indeedy, we do in fact mail ALL HOLDS to patrons. That means books, videos, and music – whatever was requested. Since the 1970’s. And we budget for it, too. This year’s budget (ending in Dec) had $360,000 earmarked for mailing reserve items to patrons, and we’re increasing it in our 2007 budget (US mailing rates went up).

Why in the world do we do this? Because our patrons absolutely love the service. In fact, Gina Millsap, our director, has spoken with patrons who have stated “this is one of the most important” library services and have also said that if we didn’t have this service, they’d “just use Amazon.”

Follow the links and read all about it and don’t miss Michael Porter’s great posts about Netflix