01 December 2006

The “Missing Piece” of the Library Netflix Model

David Lee King [Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, Kansas, USA] reports on his blog that his library mails all holds to customers. This includes books, videos, and music. It is budgeted for (US$360,000 for 2006).

“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.’” They ran the numbers and found that when figuring the cost of staff, space, calling customers, etc., they would not save much by discontinuing the service. He concludes, “This is the ‘missing piece’ of a library Netflix model. We already have the content. This proves that, in some cases, libraries do have the ability and the funding to get content to patrons—in their space, on their timetable, just like they’re used to with other cool services.”

Respondents from the Orange County Library System in Orlando, Florida and an unnamed academic library reported that they also deliver holds. OCLS delivered 600,000 holds in 2005 and used to use the postal service, but now use a small local courier company that was formed with the OCLS home delivery service in mind. Several respondents felt that having return postage paid would be desirable. This final comment sums up the issue well. “With a mailing service, if I had a choice between the library and Amazon used books, I’d use the library. This service is a good example of how older services are 2.0 as well.”

URL: http://www.davidleeking.com/2006/10/12/the-missing-piece-of-the-library-netflix-model/

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