WELLINGTON COUNTY – Book vending machines at sports complexes in Fergus and Mount Forest will be removed in light of low circulation numbers and an abundance of technical problems.
Purchased for about $37,000 each in 2018, the two library vending machines can be used by library card holders to loan out books and DVDs.
The purchases pre-date the arrival of current chief librarian Rebecca Hine, but she stated in an email that the library system strives to bring service beyond branch walls and into the community.
The vending machines would have been thought of as “an extension of that outreach,” Hine wrote.
Technical issues frequently prevent machines from working, Hine wrote in a report to the Wellington County Library Board last month.
“An excessive amount of staff time is spent travelling to and from the sportsplexes to determine, on a daily basis, if the unit is working and then communicating with the technician in Maryland, USA, explaining the issues and working to get them resolved,” Hine stated.
She added the machines have become a “detriment rather than an asset.”
An expectation of increasing circulation through the vending machines has also been met with disappointment.
Circulation data provided to the Advertiser shows there were 403 items loaned through the machine at the Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex in Fergus from 2018 to 2022, and 139 items at the Mount Forest and District Sports Complex in the same period.
“The circulation statistics are extremely low,” Hine stated in her email.
“When you factor in the amount of the yearly [software] licensing ($8,583), the amount of staff time it takes to maintain these units, as well as the fact that there has been a lot of downtime due to technical issues, you can see that it is very hard for me to justify their continued use,” Hine stated.
The library board endorsed Hine’s recommendation for the machines to be removed, but she doesn’t yet know where they will go or when they will be removed.