As self-service and 24-hour access become new paradigms in information consumption, libraries are constantly looking for ways to extend their services to meet their patrons’ needs and desires. One very interesting new technology is the MediaBank.
Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin recently opened its first branch, the Rakow Branch, on the west side of town. The new branch is home to a MediaBank unit–an external DVD and video game dispenser which operates automatically and is open 24 hours a day. According to the library’s website, the unit is one of the first of its kind in a North American library, and it will be especially exciting to see if this kind of technology takes off.
Much like the popular commercial kiosk Redbox, MediaBank is essentially a vending machine for DVD rentals, and it allows users to rent using simply their library cards. The machine uses a touchscreen interface to let users search and browse its collection. In addition, users can browse the Gail Borden MediaBank from home online here, where they can actually place a short hold on an item, which they can then retrieve.
This is a great way to continue to offer materials, even when the library is closed. For many patrons (and potential patrons), coming to the library during operating hours may be inconvenient or even impossible. The Rakow branch has limited hours and is closed two days a week, so housing their AV collection in the MediaBank is a fantastic option for them. Utilizing the MediaBank technology is a step toward expanding service and removing barriers keeping the public from making the most of their library experience. Implementing this type of technology for other uses, including books or music, would be quite easy and would no doubt open up the collection to increased usage.
Elizabeth is in her final semester in the MLIS program at Dominican University. She currently volunteers at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin and works part time at the Kraft Foods Knowledge Management Library. She hopes to bring her skills and education to a career in a public library when she graduates.
Note from Michael: The company that distributes this technology is http://www.libramation.com/