Sarah Houghton-Jan, aka the Librarian in Black (LiB), posted about it yesterday, bringing up some good questions. I decided to chime in there and ended up writing what should have been a full post over here on The M Word!
The LiB questioned whether an unstaffed branch was worth it as far as money saved, and more importantly, should it still be called a "library" when there is nobody there giving service? (It was designed basically as a room where residents could order books via OPACs and pick up holds when they became available.) My take from the marketing side was different. Here's an excerpt from what I said there:
...[F]rom a marketing POV, this is a winner. the key is this paragraph from the LJ article:
“The new mini-branch was inspired by a survey of community residents; some 95 percent said they would rather pick up their holds in a nearby unstaffed library than drive to a full-service library. Redmond Ridge is a 1,228-unit master-planned community.”
So the library system did exactly what this target audience asked for: opened an “unstaffed library” right in the community. It’s sure to be used b/c it fills a specific desire for these patrons. And for that I say, Bravo, King County!
Go over to LiB's blog and read the thought-provoking post, and comments, in full. Tell us what you think: Is this unstaffed "library" (named "Library Express") a slippery slope toward cutting staff to save money, or a brilliant use of marketing to meet patrons' needs? Or both?