Confession: I used to hate going to the library when I was a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I loved reading. I was a voracious reader, but the problem was that I was reading well above my grade level, and the librarian at my local branch wouldn’t let me take out the mysteries I wanted to read. She kept taking them back and handing me Choose Your Own Adventure books. Awful.
In the last few years though, I’ve become a frequent library patron, and it’s all thanks to the new services they offer and the user experience of those services.
The first thing that got me was the Overdrive system. I hate having to go somewhere to pick something up only to wait in line and then have to trek it back home. Free delivery and ordering online is the way to go, and finally I can take books out of the library digitally and just hit a button to return them. It’s so easy that my mom uses it, and she still can’t manage her DVD player.
But after awhile of using Overdrive I started thinking, man, I wish I could get movies off here like I can on Netflix. I had placed a hold on a season of Murdoch Mysteries, and while it was easy enough to have it sent to the branch a few minutes walk from my work, it was still out of my way. The library isn’t on my way to or from work, or in the direction I’d usually head to have lunch with my dad once a week.
So of course only a few weeks later they introduced their partnership with Hoopla, an online streaming service that works, yes, a lot like Netflix does. Only all you need to log in is your library card. The offerings are a little limited, but it’s just starting out, and no one at the counter is going to judge me if I decide I want to mainline three seasons of Inspector Lewis.
I did still need another season of Murdoch Mysteries though, so I put a hold on it at my branch again. It seems that all of the Toronto Public Library (TPL) system changes are happening this summer though – they now have a self-serve, digital checkout for library books that is both incredibly fast and easy.
Especially in a time when library funding is at risk, the TPL can show that they’re still valuable and relevant by winning over new users with better experiences and services.
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