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The first-ever 24-hour library in Missouri is scheduled to open Feb. 6 on West Chestnut Expressway.
SBJ PHOTO BY MIKE CULLINAN
The first-ever 24-hour library in Missouri is scheduled to open Feb. 6 on West Chestnut Expressway.

State’s first-ever 24-hour library set to open next week

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The state’s first automated 24-hour library kiosk is coming next week to Springfield.

Library Express West is scheduled to begin operating Feb. 6 in the Orchard Plaza shopping center, 3872 W. Chestnut Expressway. The outdoor kiosk will be open 24 hours a day, according to a news release, and it can be utilized by anyone with a valid Springfield-Greene County Library card.

The kiosk, which dispenses books, DVDs, music CDs and audiobooks, is funded via a $199,865 grant from the Friends of the Library and a $40,000 Library Services and Technology Act grant through the Missouri State Library, said Springfield-Greene County Library spokeswoman Kathleen O’Dell. The library district will lease the lot space for $300 per month from property owner Young Jin Choe. It also will fund the annual maintenance and utilities cost. 

“It’s been in the planning stages for a long time,” O’Dell said, adding library district Executive Director Regina Greer Cooper saw a demonstration of the kiosk a few years ago, but it took time to pursue the grants for investing in the technology.

Manufactured by Duluth, Georgia-based EnvisionWare Inc., the kiosk is the first of its kind in Missouri and one of only a dozen in the United States, according to the release. EnvisionWare dubs the product as the 24-Hour Library, and its website identifies other locations in Oklahoma, Indiana, Ohio and Georgia.

Library Express West’s collection of around 340 items will provide many of the services the library district’s 10 brick-and-mortar branches provide, according to the release. Visitors can scan their library card or key in their number, choose a title by typing the item number and a drawer will dispense it. Multiple items can be checked out per visit, the release said. Items also can be requested online for pickup at the kiosk or at another library branch. 

O’Dell said library funds contributed to the kiosk and other projects are provided from the Friends of the Library book sales the district holds biannually. Last fall’s book sale hit a record $154,300 in gross sales, she added.

The project came about in response to requests by west-side residents for a more conveniently located library branch, O’Dell said. 

“Businesses and neighbors have always asked us to put a branch there,” she said. “Finances what they are, we can’t afford to build a new building or renovate a current one and staff it at this time.”

O’Dell noted staff would monitor the kiosk’s usage to determine demand for library services in case a future west-side branch is possible.

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