Thursday, 5 July 2012

Unstaffed Libraries (a contradiction in terms?)

Some time ago there was a request on Lis Pub Libs for information on 'self-service without staff' and this got me wondering "how many authorities have libraries that operate like this"?
Depressingly it seems that there are quite a few, but as usual with these kind of set-ups things are never straight forward with a trend towards shared services and co-location.

In a recent story, from March, Hertfordshire piloted a scheme in their Radlett branch where the Library would open on a self-serve basis every Monday morning, this would be done in conjunction with the space being used by a community group. In June, they decided to widen the service to three points, one in partnership with a local school and the other in a one-stop shop!
In Swindon, the Old Town Library, is only staffed for certain hours during the day and the same for Sutton Libraries.

This concept is very popular in Denmark
"In Denmark, staff-less public libraries have appeared recently in many local communities. The first was established in Jutland already in 2004; however, it was first in the last two years, 2010 and 2011, that it became a trend through the establishment of more than 80 staff-less or open libraries in Denmark in 2012 the number has, furthermore, risen to 104"
in Taiwan
"The first "staff-less" library located at a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station opened yesterday evening, offering about 15,000 books targeted at teenagers and MRT commuters.
The "Ximen Open Book Smart Library" at the Ximen MRT station is the nation's second staff-less library; the Taipei Public Library had set up a pilot library in Neihu's Carrefour store in July last year."
and in the US
"So, how to expand library service on a tight budget? Some libraries have tried vending machines (such as the Go Library/Library-a-Go-Go) or kiosks. The King County Library System (KCLS), WA,just opened an unstaffed 300-square-foot Library Express @ Redmond Ridge, in partnership with the Redmond Ridge Residential Owners Association."

I was going to put forward my own arguments against this worrying development but i think I'll just let 'We Heart Libraries' do it for me in their excellent submission on the issue to Hertfordshire CC.


  1. I had to double-check the date at the top of this page, to satisfy myself that it was not dated 1st April.

  2. By the way, there is no & or # or 39 or ; in my name
    It is simply O'Neil
    That's computers for you!