The Houston Public Library system's newest plan for distributing books is a modern twist on the book mobile where books were deliverd on wheels to eager readers. This time, the reader is the driver and librarians act as car hops. Love the idea. Anything that makes it easier to lay one's hands on books gets my vote.
There'll be no carhops on roller skates. And if you're hankering for a burger and fries, forget it. But if it's food for the mind you crave — books, music or movies — staffers at some of the Houston Public Library's most congested branches will be happy to deliver your order right to your car.
The library's new curbside service, HPL To Go, is being tested at the Looscan Neighborhood Library and the McGovern-Stella Link Library. If trials go well, the service will be extended to other “parking challenged” branches.
HPL To Go joins Info Quest, a program that allows users to text message queries to reference librarians, as the latest additions to the public library's growing roster of services designed to engage 21st century library patrons.
Other recently added services include the HPL Mobile Express — a van loaded with computers that visits under-served neighborhoods — and Info 24/7, which allows users to query reference librarians via the Internet.
Library Executive Director Rhea Brown said she has challenged library workers to find ways to remain relevant in the iPhone era.
“The library is no different from any other business organization,” she said. “For you and I in society, technology is the way of the world.”
Brown said the library, whose 41 locations drew more than 5 million visitors in the last fiscal year, relies on surveys and focus groups to guide improvement efforts. The curb service project grew out of complaints from customers weary of searching for scarce library parking.
“The parking lots are small and their business is very large,” neighborhood library chief Regina Stemmer said of the test sites. Puzzled for a solution, Stemmer said her “eureka moment” came as she spied a card advertising a food delivery service while dining with friends at an area restaurant. What works for chicken fried steaks, she concluded, might work for books.
The rest of the report here.