“a complete solution which extends library opening hours and improves service to the community” which “can automatically control and monitor building access, self-service kiosks, public access computers, lighting, alarms, public announcements and patron safety.”
Apparently the model has been piloted in Leeds and 60 users signed up for the service in the first 3 weeks of operation, which to me seems an incredibly low figure.
Now there are many who would argue that volunteer-led libraries are basically staff-less and that the whole concept is not a new one with Denmark, Taipei, US and Ireland leading the way but one thing that worries me is that this 'new' model will be used by councils purely as a cost cutting exercise.
You've got to remember that the public library sector especially in England is incredibly fragmented with no real leadership, standards or strategy, with each local authority cutting, closing and divesting until a legal challenge lands on the desk of the borough solicitor.
Mick has pointed out to me that the Danish model didn't result in job losses and says in his review that;
"Bibliotheca make it very clear in all the marketing literature that their intention is NOT to accelerate the demise of the public librarian"
But, and its a big but, this is not how most local authorities will see it.
Mick also goes on to mention 'My Community', another Bibliotecha product, which although is not RFID or library related is being marketed by the company as an add-on for self-serve, it basically allows library users to access other council services, which could be seen as library budgets being used to hasten the downfall of other public services. Basically if you can pay for your council tax through a library kiosk then councils could use this to cut dedicated & trained council tax staff. Lambeth Libraries have recently invested in this product.
Bibliotecha also claim that Open+ will;
"increase community value
of the whole community. Increase membership, footfall, value and secure
a resilient and relevant service for present and future generations."
In Ireland recently a union representing library staff, Impact, called on it's members not to cooperate in plans to pilot staffless libraries there so it will be interesting to see what response, if any, there is here to all this.
"So, for the cost of some computer cameras and a card-based door entry system, your library can also get rid of all of its staff apparently. While I am not opposed to a holds-pickup station somewhere in your community, I do think it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a “library.”
for more on unstaffed or staff-less libraries see: