Friday, June 06, 2008

On the Road

Ever since I have been here, I have been talking about going "On the Road with Bob." Bob is the LEPMPL staff member who, five days a week, drives and collects the materials returned to the eight book drop locations around Eau Claire. [Update, 5/25/2014 - There are now 10 locations.] Take a look at the map, and you will soon realize what an incredible service this is to the community. Library staff empty the drops six days a week (Monday through Saturday). Monday through Friday, Bob does it. Bob is a retired library custodian who has been doing this now for about 4 and a half years. It is a great fit, he gets some part time work, and would normally be up at that hour. He is incredibly reliable, and committed to doing a great job.

I got to the Library at 5:15 or so, and went to my office. It was still quite dark out! I then headed to the office where Bob hangs out. We headed off in the van. My Flickr account shows all the photos I took, and the notes are a narrative of some of the morning.

Our first stop was at the supermarket right by my apartment. We then visited each of the book drops in a giant "anti-clockwise" circle around the City. (Look at the map, and you will see why I describe it that way.

One advantage of riding shotgun was that I was actually able to sit and look at what we were passing. It is rare that I am a passenger in the town, and when driving, I try to pay more attention to the traffic than the passing scene.

I have a few final comments on my adventure today....

I still find it incredibly wild how many book drop locations we have. People in this community do not have any idea how unique that is. Second, even though we get a good volume of returns through these book drops, people still have to come downtown to actually get their items, so it has not really affected our circulation, but I think it has helped reduce our loss rate. Third, the fit between a person and a job is critical. For this job, Bob is a great choice. He has all the right qualities and enjoys it! That is very important.

Added challenge to my non-Eau Claire readers: Is there any other public library which has as many off-site places to return library materials? Remember, the eight locations in Eau Claire are at convenience stores and grocery stores, not at branches or even other government offices. I contend that Eau Claire is unique and has more off-site places to return materials than any other public library.


  1. Only 3 in Olathe, KS although one site has two boxes.

    We currently are polling customers to see where another should go. We have a main library and one branch.

    Our courier also does a run to the county library on week days. We exchange about 24,000 item/month.

  2. A note from a friend in Connecticut...

    Well, Michael, we don't have any outposts unless you count our depot cart at our senior center. Whisper (cause I don't want anyone to hear) What a great idea! Even in a small town like Columbia, CT, I could see the customer service advantages of having another drop point. Of course, this would entail costs and the right employee. There would be those that would argue that in a town where you can drive anywhere in less than 15 min., why would this even be considered. I can see the possible choices, our small shopping village, the beach houes in the summer, our local landfill. Hey, I'm the one who wants a drive through book drop and pick up when we expand!
    And what a gem you have in Bob!
    Carol K.