Red Box Rentals at Princeton Public Library 18

Janie Hermann writes:

We are a pilot site at PPL for having Red Box services to supplement the library collection. This gives our library customers 24 hour access to the newest DVDs, means that we do not have to buy as many copies of new releases (thus saving money), and we can a cut of the money from having the Red Box on site that we can use for collection development. Win, win, win — at least we hope so. Pilot projects are exciting.

Article about the pilot program — we have been waiting six months for the arrival.

From the article:

In exchange for providing a location and power, the library will receive three cents on every dollar spent on a Redbox DVD. At Tuesday’s meeting, Media Librarian Barbara Silberstein described how Redbox’s presence would relieve the library of having to buy multiple copies of fleetingly popular new films, enabling them to purchase more foreign language films, “indie” productions, and TV series.

I am over the moon at the possibilities this partnership may yield for libraries. AV departments – take note!

18 thoughts on “Red Box Rentals at Princeton Public Library

  • r random

    So… assuming $4 per rental, for every 1000 rentals, the library gets $120 and the company gets $3880.

    I wonder if this is the standard rate grocery stores and 7/11s charge for hosting similar dvd-dispensers? Just curious…

  • Michael Porter

    Strongly agreed, r random. Without knowing the background financial of this it is hard to be over the moon on my end. I am over the moon about the potential and that this idea puts a different type of service provision sort of “in your face” though. And I like that PPL is stretching their wings and bravely experimenting. That is critical and far to rare, so huge props to PPL for this. And, you know, it is just plain neat, eh? The concept is exciting for sure.

  • JanieH

    We are really unsure as to where this will go. We are excited to try something that has never been tried, but we have only committed to a six month trial so that we are protected.

    One important aspect that is mentioned in the newspaper story is that can not be overlooked is PPL’s desire to provide a community service. There is no easily accessible video store in downtown Princeton and the redbox will provide a way for our customers to get DVDs when we are closed.

    Hopefully we will save some money in not buying multiple copies of new releases (and I think we plan to count the rentals among our circulation stats) and maybe get a few hundred dollars every month, but if we can also help provide better access to popular materials 24 hours a day then that is valuable too. .

  • Teresa Raines

    The great thing about Redbox is the cost of movies. It is only $1.00 a day. Three cents for each movie may not seem like a lot, but the possible savings to the library in encumbered funds for film purchases could be substantial. I think it is a great idea, and I hope it is successful.

  • JanieH

    Just want to add to my previous comment…

    Leslie Burger, the director at PPL, had a theme of Transformation throughout her year as ALA president. This is something that she strongly believes in and is still practicing to this day. We have just passed the 5 year mark in our new building and under Leslie’s leadership our staff is constantly being challenged to transform the way we deliver services. We are continually offering new services and new models of delivery to see what is possible.

    We are currently in involved in 3 pilot projects — one for a no-cost Netflix-style “Library by Mail” service, another for Mobile Marketing via texting as well as the Redbox project. More information about the Library by Mail project is currently on our web site and we will be unveiling the mobile marketing by mid-July.

  • Leslie Burger

    The decision to go with the RedBox pilot was not driven by the promise of revenue, although any additional revenue these days is a good thing! Offering multiple copies of popular DVDs in an outdoor location, at a low cost (PPL charges for our DVD rentals@ $1/night) means that our customers will have a convenient source of entertainment 24/7. Add to that the ability to re-purpose scarce collection funds to enhance the collection, reduce labor costs in purchasing, processing and handling DVDs, less theft on popular titles and the convenience of returning a movie to any RedBox location and it looks like this could be a winner for everyone. We’re in a six month trial so only time will tell. We’ll keep you posted.

  • Michael Post author

    Leslie – Thanks for the comment and the info. The benefits you cite are important, especially for library service as we go forward with tight budgets, staffing, etc. But the benefits to users: a service built around user convenience, selection and ease of use are the most important for me. Please keep us posted! 🙂

  • Emily

    Though the setup is a little different, North Carolina State University Library has had a DVD rental kiosk available for several months now. It isn’t provided by the Library but is located there. I’m not sure if it is available when the Library is closed or how much use it has gotten…
    You can read about it here:

  • Emily

    Hasn’t anyone else noticed that the people in the picture obviously cannot get their video from the box? She’s looking up inside, he’s knocking it back and forth and the delivery men on the right have stopped to watch.

    This just goes to show you that you cannot replace a real person sometimes!

  • Justin Hoenke

    “One important aspect that is mentioned in the newspaper story is that can not be overlooked is PPL’s desire to provide a community service. ”

    Beautiful. That’s why I love this idea so much. It’s all about our patrons and this project really reaches out to them. I hope this goes well for your library and I hope it catches on with other libraries as well.

  • JanieH

    Emily: The box is being installed in this picture.

    The men watching are library employees overseeing the installation (correct location, etc) and the woman is helping to get the footing in place for the newly drilled hole in the cement while the man does the heavy lifting. There are no videos installed yet. I shot this picture really quickly with my Blackberry as I was coming to work for the evening as a spur of the moment photo to send to Facebook. I can see how you would interpret the picture to be that a video is stuck, but it is not the case. 🙂

  • helene

    Emily, I believe that this is a photo of the installation of the kiosk. I think she is on the ground leveling it while the gentleman is tilting it back to give her room to set the leveling feet.

    I think this is a great idea, especially since there is no other nearby video store. Many libraries (including ours) have a rental collection of enormously popular books for those patrons who don’t want to wait. This is just an extension of that service to DVDs and it’s available after hours, too. It’s a win-win for everybody.

  • Lee

    Solid idea.

    We need more people taking more risks at more libraries -not less.

    All ideas no matter how outlandish or cost prohibitive should be entertained -on some scale. We need more people looking for solutions; and far less people lamenting about why things don’t, won’t or can’t work. I am tired of hearing why ideas are bad. I’d much rather hear about how we can make an idea, better.

    I’ve been wondering lately about how vehemently some librarians are opposing any changes with libraries.

    I’ve wondered this: is it because they feel the profession is dying? I’ve had some librarians actually say this to me. Often, death quickens the instinct to act, defensively . If you have not prepared yourself, what happens when this moment comes? How can you change? You certainly wouldn’t look at it as a re-birth. Could it be the descending feeling of panic is the realization you don’t know how to make the changes you need to make?

    There is no doubt services that challenge the traditional librarian will only continue to multiply. Reacting against them is horrible strategy. We are either up or getting up. Change is the only constant.

    What would make this idea cost effective?

    A quick idea is to add up how much energy the Redbox dispenser consumes, account for usage wear on building and surrounding area,

    and then minus the revenue, “halo effect” (look it up as this term is very very valuable for what libraries do for their communities), customer service and other items identified in the project above.

    What we may find is not the best solution first time out -but a worthy attempt at trying a new service/solution/idea that could lead to something even better.

  • Michael

    Kudos to PPL for pushing the envelope and providing this service to its patrons. But with respect to service, who answers the call when the Red Box malfunctions? Red Box? Or Library Staff? What if someone tries to rent or return a DVD at 2:00 AM? What if the DVD doesn’t feed though the return device properly and the customer is charged an additional fee? Or a DVD isn’t dispensed? I’ve heard, first-hand, accounts of less than stellar Red Box customer service attitudes. Is PPL complicit in these attitudes by proxy by entering into this agreement? Or do patrons understand the difference in expectation for level of service?

  • Vivian

    Any updates on the Red Box trial at PPL?

    A vending machine of this kind has been observed in Melbourne for the first time only in recent months. I often see people engaging with it when I pass by.

    Has PPL found it suitable for their users, and sustainable for their library?

  • Ted

    Library’s and change are the standard. Rather than a concern about trying something new, is the motivation for the change. Is it really about service or revenue or status? Many libraries do not charge for materials, so the fact that PPL already does, this change is not such a big change. Libraries are all about partnerships, that is also the standard. So, I don’t see that much that is really new or noteworthy. So much depends on the context of the local community. If the program is well received on site, good for PPL in expanding their efforts to meet patron/customer demand. But this rate ($1/day) would be a big step backwards in many communities.

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