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Washington state’s first library kiosk opens in Spokane’s West Central neighborhood

Spokane Public Library unveiled a new library kiosk outside the West Central Community Center Tuesday, the first automated machine of its kind in Washington state.

The machine works like a vending machine and allows people to use their library cards to check out books and movies. Materials also can be returned at the kiosk, which will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We are so excited that this day is finally here,” said community center Executive Director Kim Ferraro. “This library brings new possibilities to the families in our neighborhood.”

The kiosk was funded completely by sponsors and cost about $200,000, said library Executive Director Andrew Chanse.

The library put the kiosk in West Central because it is an area without a library of its own, Chanse said. The nearest branches are at Shadle and downtown.

“West Central is one of the neighborhoods we have the lowest market share,” he said. “It just made perfect sense.”

Having the kiosk at the community center allows the library to get an idea of the demand for services in the neighborhood.

“It’s kind of a pilot for library services here,” Chanse said. “This is a good test for us.”

It took time to raise the money needed to install the kiosk without pulling money from the library’s budget, Chanse said.

“This is the essence of a public-private partnership,” he said.

Chanse said he’s not worried about the machine being vandalized. There are about a dozen of the machines in use in the country, primarily in San Diego and Milwaukee, Chanse said. Those machines, like the one in Spokane, are sturdy and have 10 surveillance cameras installed.

“There haven’t been any damage issues,” he said.

The kiosk at the community center is also watched over by the center’s cameras.

Spokane Mayor David Condon spoke briefly before a ribbon cutting ceremony marked the kiosk as open for business. He said the kiosk is an example of how the city is making investments in the community.

“The modern-day bookmobile is right behind you,” he said. “It truly is access to knowledge, which is the fabric of our community. This will break down barriers in the West Central community.”

Thefirst item checked out of the kiosk was a Captain Underpants book. It didn’t take long for kids at the center to swarm the machine, which holds books for adults and kids as well as DVDs.

Amanda Estep checked out a DVD and a few books for her children. She visits the community center often and knew the kiosk was coming. She previously went to either the Shadle or downtown libraries, but they weren’t convenient.

“I live right down the road,” she said. “This is so much better. I’m so thrilled.”

She likes that she can also return books there and that she can check out books for herself, too. The machine includes popular items like Harry Potter and James Patterson books. “That is so cool,” she said.

Numerica Credit Union contributed $50,000 for the project and is the title sponsor. Funding also came from the Avista Foundation, the Walmart Foundation, Pitney Bowes, Spokane Federal Credit Union, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Band Construction. Spokane City Councilwoman Candace Mumm also contributed money.

“It’s going to be a wonderful thing for the community,” said Lynn Ciani, Numerica’s executive vice president general counsel. “These books will enhance the lives of those who read them.”


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