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Tallinn Central Library launches self-service terminals

Laagna Library.
Laagna Library. Source: "Aktuaalne kaamera"

Tallinn Central Library is set to introduce two new types of self-service facility - 24-hour loan desks and self-service machines where every reader can borrow and return books without the need for assistance from a librarian.

Starting on Tuesday, books will be available to order from the Tallinn Central Library's lockers, which are located in different spots throughout the Estonian capital. In the future, Tallinn's libraries may become entirely self-service.

Laagna Library is one of the eight lending points where readers will be able to take advantage of Tallinn Central Library's latest innovation.

Readers will be able to pick up the books they have ordered from the lending locker at any time of the day or night. The service is free of charge for the borrower. "They are necessary to make the library service more convenient for the citizens of Tallinn. In order for literature can be borrowed even when the library is closed. Often readers cannot get to the library after the working day or even at the weekend. People's work hours are very different," explained Tallinn Central Library's Service Director Triinu Seppam-Saar.

"The way the machine works, is that the reader places their order earlier, then the library does its job. Now, when the reader receives an e-mail from the library saying that they can come and pick up their order, they take their reader card and pick it up from a locker," said Laura Vunk, head of development projects at Tallinn Central Library.

There are currently self-service lockers at eight Tallinn libraries, one in each district. In addition to the lending lockers, self-service machines are also set to opened at these libraries, allowing readers to both borrow and return books by themselves. The plan is to introduce self-service machines to all the capital's libraries in the future.

According to Seppam-Saare, Tallinn Central Library has no plans to reduce its staff numbers as a result of these new developments. "The self-service machines will give librarians more time to deal with substantive tasks. Literary advice, so that people can find exactly the right book they need. This is the time we need to be able to get more involved with people and their reading habits," said Seppam-Saar.

Tallinn Central Library is already moving towards becoming an entirely self-service facility.

"In the Nordic countries, we are already seeing that there are libraries where readers can go when there are no librarians on site. And Tallinn Central Library is actually planning (to introduce) self-service libraries. We are hoping to get funding so we can then start testing them out, perhaps already this or next year," Seppam-Saar added.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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