Novi resident and library cardholder Marcia Davis stands in front of the Lakeshore Lending Library, Michigan’s first self-service library kiosk, at Lakeshore Park.

Novi resident and library cardholder Marcia Davis stands in front of the Lakeshore Lending Library, Michigan’s first self-service library kiosk, at Lakeshore Park.

Photo provided by Marcia Davis

Self-service library kiosk opens at Lakeshore Park

Library kiosk to expand services in city’s north end

By: Jonathan Shead | Novi Note | Published August 28, 2021


NOVI — Library lovers, readers and cinephiles have a new space to check out popular materials on the city’s north end at Lakeshore Park.

A new self-service library kiosk at the newly upgraded park — coined the Lakeshore Lending Library, an arm of the Novi Public Library — opened in May.

The Lakeshore Lending Library is the first self-service library kiosk in Michigan.

The library vending machine holds a maximum of 235 browsable popular youth and adult fiction books, children’s picture books, nonfiction, biographies, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, and it can only be used by library cardholders.

The library kiosk, located at 601 S. Lake Drive, is a machine that Novi Public Library Director Julie Farkas had wanted for the past five years. First introduced to the technology at the Public Library Association conference in 2016, Farkas felt it could be beneficial to implement one in Novi.

“We knew that we had a disconnect with our north end. Libraries are definitely a convenience for people. When you go north of (Interstate) 96, which is still Novi, getting to the library is more difficult,” Farkas said. “We knew we had a need. We don’t know what the need is yet, because until you put it out there and get it into use, (you don’t know), but we know that we have low library card numbers in that area.”

The library currently has approximately 24,000 cardholders.

“I’ll be honest with you, that’s not a great number,” Farkas said.

According to the latest census data, Novi has a population of 66,243 residents as of 2020, which to Farkas means that there is a largely untapped market of potential cardholders still in the community.

“We want to gain new users of the library. We want to create library users, and if it’s with the kiosk at first, that’s great, or even with a program,” she said. “It’s a chance for them to take advantage of (the library’s) resources.”

Since opening in May, Farkas said feedback has been positive, with some suggestions for improvements, as well.

“They have offered some suggestions, which we want, because with this being new and us launching it truly up in this Midwest area for the first time, we know that we’re on the bleeding edge. Until you actually have the user use it, and find out what might work for them, that’s part of it is to also learn what their expectations are, too,” she said.

Kiosk users have asked the library if the carousel catalog of materials could be categorized, but Farkas explained that’s not likely possible, because it doesn’t allow her staff to fill the machine properly. Others have requested holds be available at the kiosk, which could be an option, Farkas said, though she wants to keep the machine open and browsable for the first six months.

Novi resident and lending library user Marcia Davis asked if the labels on the materials in the kiosk could be made smaller so that patrons can see the full titles, but outside of that issue, Davis loved her first experience using the kiosk.

“I thought it was very user-friendly. I liked the looks of it. I love the location. It’s a great stopping point for somebody that isn’t near the library that wants to pick up a book to read,” she said. “I absolutely recommend it.”

With real-time data being sent to the main library branch, Farkas said she’s able to see what’s being checked out and track what materials might not be as popular. Any materials that have sat for about three months likely will be removed, she said.

“If it’s not moving, we won’t keep it there. The whole point of this is truly to meet the demands of what the reader or watcher wants,” Farkas said. A resident survey is in the works, as well, to garner more feedback.

Exclusive access to Novi residents, and library cardholders, was purposeful, Farkas explained. “This is a gift to them because they supported the library. This is another service to them that we’re trying to provide and give them more convenience to the library.”

Without some taxpayer dollars invested into the project, alongside a $40,000 sponsorship from Community Financial Credit Union over four years, the $70,000 dollar project wouldn’t be complete, she added.

“Our goal is to help families with financial literacy and all the components to help them be successful. The cornerstone of all of that is reading, and so helping families help their children learn to read, and just for folks to enjoy over time, this kiosk will allow access for more families to do that,” Community Financial Credit Union Community Relations Manager Natalie McGlaughlin said.

The library will continue to accrue nominal maintenance costs to keep the kiosk running. The kiosk is weatherized, with heating in the colder months and cooling vents through the summer, and can be used year-round.

As the library hopes to secure more of a foothold in the city’s north end, Novi Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Muck said the new lending library may help his department reach their goals, as well.

“We were happy to add the lending library as one of the enhancements when we renovated the park. I think it helps the library meet their goal of getting more exposure on the north end of the city. Obviously, we want people in the park, so if it draws people who maybe never have come to the park before, then that’s a win for both of us,” Muck said.

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