"Before and After" Self-Service Hours
To augment access, Aurora launched the “Before and After Self-Service Hours” program at its Central Library facility in March 2012, adding 15.5 hours per week to existing public hours. For minimal cost, the “Self-Service Hours” concept makes more efficient use of the existing facility and equipment investment.
After a 50% reduction in library funding and staff resulting in the initial closure of four of seven locations at the beginning of 2010, Aurora Public Library staff realized that creative enhancements using non-traditional methods would be needed to maximize the availability of library resources to users at minimal cost. The demand for public PCs in the demographic served by Aurora’s Central Library is high and often all 120 customer PCs are in use during regularly staffed hours.
InnovationNewly added self-service hours include opening the doors on weekdays at 8 a.m. before the regular opening at 9 a.m. and staying open until 10 p.m. after regular staff departs at 8 p.m., with additional self-service hours scheduled prior to the regular opening on Saturday and Sunday.
This public access enhancement for Aurora’s Central Public Library facility partially emulates the university library model of keeping the academic library open late at night for student study, or even all night for end of semester exam preparation by anxious students. During the new self-service hours, security staff and security cameras supervise the library’s 35,000 square feet of public space on two floors. Library users now have late-night and early morning access to the collection, the study areas, the customer computers, online resources, self-checkout stations, restrooms and the all-important vending machines. Staff schedule rearrangements at no extra cost made possible this additional self-service library time for customers.
Morning self-service sessions are each averaging about 95 people, while evening sessions are each averaging about 105 people. After much staff discussion and preparation about customer expectations, there have been very few issues with implementation. Initial results indicate a significant customer count during these self-service times, making this enhancement to regular staffed and programmed public hours a great “bang for the buck.”