library outreachAs pandemic-era restrictions loosen, thoughts turn to an age-old challenge: How can we extend our library’s reach?

In 2022, figuring out successful outreach methods may feel a bit more complicated. It leads to a number of questions: How do libraries meet a growing demand for resources? How can we bridge the digital divide? How can libraries meld technology and physical library access to meet their community’s (ever-evolving) needs? How can we effectively offer 24-hour availability?

Read on to explore how library automation can extend the reach of your library, so you can meet your community’s unique needs.

Efficient Contactless Services

Over the past two years, patrons have gotten used to the efficiency of contactless service. But the push toward self-service started long before the pandemic, with many libraries embracing this growing trend that frees up librarians to focus on more strategic tasks.

Technology that saves time and increases efficiency while allowing librarians to engage with the community is key. Continuing curbside service, expanded live online chat options, and effective content management platforms are just a few ways to give patrons the digital and physical resources they need.

Virtual programming has also grown in popularity since 2020 and offers a way to connect (and reconnect) with the community, even if they’re not able to visit the library in person. Of course, ensuring virtual programs are accessible to all is key. The ALA offers a virtual accessibility guide to help.

Intelligent Book Pick-Up (and Beyond)

When discussing barriers to library services, time constraints often come up. This problem is easy to understand; when most libraries are open during regular business hours, many working adults simply can’t get there in time.

Library automation technology offers an easy solution: intelligent lockers. These “smart” lockers allow patrons to pick up books on hold at any time, day or night. But that’s not all; the lockers also let patrons search the catalog, pay fines, download e-resources, and place holds on material. It’s a simple way to significantly extend your library’s reach.

Plus, they look amazing. Check out these custom vinyl wraps on these intelligent lockers in Nassau County that help create a seamless and convenient experience for patrons.

24-Hour Access Made Simple

What about patrons who can’t visit the library during business hours, but still want to browse and check out materials? For even more access, the AutoLend Library system provides a solution.

Not only does the fully automated library kiosk let patrons grab their holds, they can also browse, pick up, and return materials right at the kiosk. The library book vending machine units hold up to 450 items, from hard covers to DVDs, children’s books to paperbacks and audiobooks.

Plus, the AutoLend serves as a WiFi hotspot, helping to bridge the digital divide. All this usability is packed into a space that’s just 34 inches deep and 41 inches wide, so the library vending machine unit fits neatly into almost any outreach center, from a bus station to a foyer in a community center.

Though the pandemic restrictions of the last two years may be on the wane, the demand for contactless, virtual, and accessible services doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Library automation technology offers a way to not just keep up, but to increase your library’s reach and meet your community’s needs.