The Delaware County Library System (DCLS) traces its origins to the 1890s, when the women of Delaware, Ohio started a fee-based reading club. The club soon became a free library, dedicated to serving all the citizens of the town, located about 25 miles north of Columbus, and later the entire county. The first library building was constructed in 1904 with a gift by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, but by the 1980s, it had become far too small to meet the needs of the county’s growing population. In 1990, the voters of Delaware passed a $4.5 million bond to expand the main library to 43,000 square feet and build small branches in the towns of Powell and Ostrander. In May of 2011, a new 33,000-square-foot branch is scheduled to open in Orange Township, one of the fastest-growing areas of the county.
All of the libraries offer free wireless access and share a system-wide catalog, which is linked with a consortium of 19 other Ohio libraries so patrons can search and use materials from any of the libraries’ collections. The main branch in Delaware houses the DCLS administrative offices and boasts a bright and expansive children’s area, tutor’s rooms and a computer/audio visual room with 24 computers for public use. It also maintains genealogical records for Delaware County and a room dedicated to the sport of harness racing.
Why BookScan Station
DCLS bought its first BookScan Station after learning about it at the Public Library Association’s 2010 Conference in Portland, OR. The unit arrived just in time to be introduced to the public as part of April 2010 Earth Day celebrations at the main branch in Delaware.
“It was purely coincidental that it arrived then, but in the spirit of the day we created a sign that said ‘No Paper. No Toner. No Problem,’” said Adult Services Manager Joe O’Rourke. “As we demonstrated it to people we told them the BookScan Station slogan was Paper Free, Save a Tree.”
But going green was not the primary motivation for getting the system, said O’Rourke. What the library really wanted as a scanner that would provide an alternative to photocopy machines and be easy enough for patrons to use unassisted.
“We had an old all-in-one scanner hooked up to the reference desk computer,” he said. Those who wanted to scan something had to ask the reference desk librarian, who then scanned the materials for them. “On the occasions when people were specifically asking for a scanner, the option we had was not user-friendly, and it was inconvenient for us to have to scan for patrons. The BookScan Station is a lot more convenient and the touch screen is so easy to use. We’ve had it for a year now, and it gets a lot of use from both the staff and the patrons.”
As a result, said O’Rourke, more people are discovering the advantages of digitizing their materials. “We’re marketing it as an alternative to photocopies,” he said. “Before, if you wanted five or six pages out of a book, you would have to take all that paper home with you. Now, you can scan to a thumb drive and you don’t have any paper to deal with.”
The BookScan Station was set up in the back of the Delaware library’s main reference book stack. Truthfully, said O’Rourke, the location was chosen because it was one of the few spots with an available electrical outlet. But because reference materials can’t be checked out – and because they are right in the center of the library – the location turned out to be ideal. “Customers are finding it, and using it,” he said. “And I haven’t heard any complaints about it from staff or patrons.”
DCLS decided to keep the scans free, which has encouraged patrons to use it. “We charge 10 cents a page for copies,” said O’Rourke. “So if you have 15-20 pages, you can scan them for free or pay 10 cents for each page. People like the free alternative.”
They like it so much, in fact, that they are using it for much more than just capturing pages from reference books. They are scanning documents, resumes and photos, and “a couple of people have come in on weekends with a folder full of photographs, to create a digital archive,” he said.
The library also chose not to enable the scan-to-e-mail or scan-to-print features, so patrons can only save their scans to a USB drive. “To me, this seems like a more modern alternative to carrying around a bunch of papers,” said O’Rourke. “And printing seems to defeat the purpose of having the paperless option. If they want to e-mail it, they can take it to the computer lab and do that there.” Those who really need paper copies can also do that from the computers, which print to the photocopier.
As the repository for the genealogy records for all of Delaware County, the main branch gets a lot of requests from patrons researching their family history for things like obituaries and birth announcements. In the past, these requests had to be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Then librarians would go into the archives, print the material and mail it. The BookScan Station has made that whole processes easier – and faster – for both patrons and librarians.
“Now, they can just e-mail us,” said O’Rourke. “And I can scan something to a thumb drive, then sit down at my desk and e-mail it to whoever asks for it. They don’t have to send self-addressed stamped envelope – we can e-mail it for free.”
Six months after receiving the first BookScan Station, DCLS decided to order a second unit, which will be installed in the highly anticipated Orange Township library. Opening in May, the new $8.1 million branch will serve a community of 25,000 people and house a collection of over 90,000 books, DVDs, magaines, CDs and digital books. Touted as a state-of-the-art library and community center, the new building will include a drive-through book-drop, meeting rooms for children and adults, and computers in every department. It will also have a business center with computers, reference materials – and a BookScan Station.
In the more distant future, DCLS may use the BookScan Stations to help digitize the library archives, but not now. “We know it will do that,” said O’Rourke. “But we’re so busy, we haven’t made that commitment yet.”
“The best thing (about BookScan Station) is that it’s convenient. Once you show people how to use it, it’s completely self-service. They can walk up to it and do everything on their own. . . . The fact that it’s Green was an added benefit.”
Adult Services Manager
Delaware County Library System