Book vending machines dispense mind food to students

The University of Sydney will roll out some of the first book vending machines in Australia as part of a novel new initiative to modernise its libraries.

Time-poor students at the University’s Library spaces can ‘snack’ on a selection of high-rotation titles from the library’s collections starting this October.

The vending machines are the first of their kind in New South Wales, with only a handful of similar appliances entering the Australian market in recent years.

Not only will the new Holds and Loans (HAL) service give students easy access to high-demand books stored in the vending machines, it will also open up valuable learning spaces within library facilities, said Matthew Davis, Associate Director Site Services University of Sydney Library.

“Feedback from students has consistently shown that learning spaces are at a premium on campus. The changes are really about providing valuable resources to students where and when they need them,” Mr Davis said.

“When we analysed data for Camden Library, for example, we found that students primarily used the space to study and access technology, with print collections used relatively infrequently.

“Now that the overwhelming majority of information resources are delivered digitally, we’re able to develop spaces for students to think, connect and collaborate while still accessing the books they need.” Matthew Davis.

As part of the HAL service, users can swipe their student ID cards to access a selection of titles that are tagged with a radio frequency identification device within the vending machine. The custom-built Quantum ‘LibCabinet’ appliance also features a mounted CCTV camera unit for both security and remote access to service updates to machines.

The University of Sydney will also be installing a secure Bibliotecha ‘SmartLocker’ system in the library space at Camden. Similar to Australia Post’s parcel lockers, this new system allows students to order any resources they need from other University libraries and collect them from the secure lockers at their convenience. The vending machines are being implemented following a successful four-month trial in the Camden Library earlier this year.

The vending machine service forms part of a broader transformation of the University of Sydney’s libraries, which include refurbishments to The Quarter in the Badham building, the introduction of peer learning advisers, extended opening hours and plans to shift to a 24/7 service model by 2016.

“We’re thrilled to be modernising our resources to deliver the best outcomes for our students,” said Belinda Norman, Associate Director, Community and Administration University of Sydney Library.

“The vending machines are a significant step forward in moving from an organisational model structured around print, to one that more accurately reflects the digital delivery driving most student interactions with their library.”