SD&G Library’s ‘Library Express’ Depot recognized for innovation in Toronto last week

Seen in image above: SD&G County Library was presented with the 2017 Minister's Award for Innovation for medium-size libraries at the Ontario Library Association's Public Library Service Awards, held last week in Toronto. Courtesy photos.

SDG — In 2015, the SD&G County Library embarked on a new initiative to provide library services to communities in the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry without library facilities. To do so, the Library developed an innovative alternative service option, called the “Library Express” Depot.

In recognition of this initiative the SD&G County Library was presented with the 2017 Minister’s Award for Innovation for medium-size libraries at the Ontario Library Association’s Public Library Service Awards, held last week in Toronto. The SD&G County Library is very proud of the “Library Express” depot initiative, and is honoured to be recognized at the provincial level.

Originally piloted in 2012 when the Williamsburg Branch was temporarily closed for reconstruction, the “Library Express” depot model was created to serve residents in areas where the Library has no full-service branch facility. It has allowed the Library to continue offering services throughout SDG, especially in under-served areas. While branch closures in 2016 were difficult, this innovative initiative was adapted to meet local circumstances at that time, and proved that it can easily be adopted by other library systems in both rural and urban locations.

“Library Express” depots are low-tech and inexpensive, requiring little training for Library staff or our community partners. However, the impact can be great and very positive, as it gives a way for residents to access their library closer to home.  From Glen Walter here in SDG, to the most northern of communities across Ontario, the “Library Express” depot model opens a whole new world of service possibilities for public libraries.

How does the service work? The ‘Library Express’ Depot stems from partnerships with local businesses or organizations to provide access points to Library resources. “Library Express” patrons request materials using the Library’s online catalogue, which are then delivered to the local business once a week in individually-wrapped canvas bags (for privacy). Patrons can pick up their checked-out items during the open hours of that business – which are often longer than Library branch hours. A book return bin located on the grounds of the local business or organization, offering a convenient way to return items when finished. The Library then empties the bin once a week and returns the items to a branch for check-in. To account for a limited delivery and pick-up schedule, extended loan periods are granted to ensure all patrons, no matter the branch or depot, have an equal length of time with borrowed items. All that is required to use a “Library Express” depot is an SD&G County Library membership card. Cards may be requested online, by phone, in a branch, or at a “Pop Up Library” event.

A special thank you goes to the community partners who make the ‘Library Express” depots possible: Stinson Gas Station (Glen Walter), Crossroads Convenience (St. Andrews West) and Dalkeith Plus (Dalkeith).