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A 24-hour library book dropbox has recently been installed at the Sidgwick site, home to many Cambridge departmental libraries in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, as part of a trial. The box is the first of its kind to allow users of several Cambridge libraries to return books at a central location.

The book drop will allow library users to return books borrowed from Sidgwick libraries (besides short-loans) 24 hours a day, with two collections per day Monday to Friday. The box sits on the site between the English Faculty Library and the Seeley Historical Library, with collections and redistribution handled by the English Faculty and MML libraries.

Futurelib, the team behind the trial, will be gathering detailed usage statistics from the box itself and will also be comparing data related to borrowing, returns, renewals and so on against that from when the drop box was not in place. They will also be talking to students and staff using the service about the experience, and what changes it has made to their working routines and habits.

The library book dropbox is one of several initiatives informing Futurelib’s ongoing Intraloans project, which is exploring many aspects of how Cambridge libraries could better serve their users. This will involve upscaling existing services at the University, and piloting a service wherein books can be ordered from one library and collected at another more convenient location for the user.

A full project findings report, complete with suggestions for service design will follow the research.

Image: Acting University Librarian, Professor Chris Young, marking the official opening of the trial library book dropbox.