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Library Success Stories - Shop Bound Library Service in Gunnedah

A guest post by Chris Birkett, Gunnedah Shire Library

Gunnedah Shire Library implemented a new Shop Bound service in February 2014 for business owners and employees who are unable to access the library during its working hours due to their work commitments.  Library staff understand that most business operating hours closely resemble our own and this makes selecting and returning library materials (books, talking books, magazines, DVDs and CDs) difficult. The Shop Bound service delivers bags of books directly to business owners and employees who are unable to come to the library.  

Anyone wishing to take part in the Shop Bound service simply needs to full out a Library Membership Application form if they are not a member already, and answer a brief questionnaire which will guide the library staff about their reading preferences. Using this information, the library staff selects relevant materials, checks it out for the user, and delivers the bag of books directly to the nominated shop every two weeks.  

This service is very like the House Bound service that most libraries provide. The most time consuming aspect of the service is staff visiting the shops, explaining the service, and having the forms filled in, as they will be competing with walk in customers, phone calls, messages, etc., etc. We have found that the personal visit, however, is better than any other form of canvassing. 

Each library staff member is responsible for administering to the shop bound people they joined – selecting the materials, delivering the books, and forming a relationship that leads to refining or altering the choices of materials checked out.  

We were expecting only the shop owners and workers join the library, but found that not only did they join, but they also asked if other family members could join – husbands, daughters, grandchildren, etc.  One of the bags delivered contains material for the shop owner, her 93 year old mother, and her 9 year old son – truly a multigenerational bag!  

Once the service is up and running, it takes very little to maintain; staff members have bags to pack (sometimes they are packed by a volunteer using the questionnaire information if the staff member is not present) and deliver for their own clients.   An email is sent the day before the delivery reminding clients that the changeover is the following day.  The service presently operates only in the CBD, so deliveries are made on foot or by car; I am currently looking at a trolley a la the mail delivery trolleys to use.