Preliminary testing begins for library to campus box service

| Contributing Reporter

Olin Library is piloting a new system this semester that allows students and faculty members to order library books online and have them delivered to their campus boxes.

At Olin Library, books are sorted as outgoing and incoming.  The library's new service allows books to be checked out and delivered to a campus box.AB Brooks | Student Life

At Olin Library, books are sorted as outgoing and incoming. The library’s new service allows books to be checked out and delivered to a campus box.

The trial began last week and will assess how delivery works from Olin to different mailrooms on campus, with the eventual goal of expanding to all campus libraries. Deb Ehrstein, Interlibrary Loan and Reserves librarian at Olin Library, is coordinating this project.

The service is being tested by a small group of faculty and graduate students, but the project team hopes to fully implement it by October or November, pending feedback.

Undergraduate students, especially those living on campus, may have less demand for this service.

“I don’t find that [service] particularly useful,” sophomore Lucy Simpson said. “If I want a book, I’m just going to go to the library and get it.”

Ehrstein suspects that the test group is more likely to make use of this service due to the nature of their work.

“Certainly for some users who are not in a rush for the material and are maybe focused on doing their research or their work in a certain location on campus, it’s a convenience factor to be able to have their materials brought to them instead,” Ehrstein said.

However, the team doesn’t plan to limit the service to just these groups.

Other universities that actively utilize a library-to-campus box system inspired Ehrstein’s team.

“Campus delivery is a service that’s offered at a lot of large universities across the U.S.,” Ehrstein said, “So our peers are actively already doing this, and it’s come up in conversation with different departments over the years, and our administration decided that maybe now is a good time to tackle that.”

Currently, procedures for returning books are the same as for books checked out in person. However, the team is looking into other return methods, such as a designated drop-off spot at the mail room or on campus for a potential future phase.

A final decision, Ehrstein said, will require more detailed investigation and collaboration with mail services and users.