Woodland Library patrons now have the chance to visit the library outside of its regular operating hours, as a result of a self-service system that the facility is piloting.
Under the "open access" model, approved patrons can use the library three mornings a week before it opens to the broader public.
"It makes it very convenient for patrons to check out materials, to browse the library, do some work, use our WiFi, read," Community Librarian Rose Baiza said. "There are a lot of opportunities for patrons to use the library during those hours."
The library, located at 1975 Grant Road in Los Altos, is using a system called open+ to manage the self-service hours. open+ is designed to allow libraries to operate without employees present, but Woodland has opted to have staff members in the building during the self-service hours.
As "self-service" implies, the employees aren't available to serve patrons. Instead, staff are busy with tasks including getting the building ready to open, shelving materials and preparing holds, Baiza said.
Though staff are on site, there are also other safety measures in place, including security cameras. According to Baiza, the cameras aren't monitored regularly, but the footage can be referred to if an incident occurs.
Patrons also have to undergo an orientation to get cleared to participate in the self-service program. The orientation includes receiving a list of library policies, filling out and signing a form, and receiving a short demonstration on how to access the building during self-service hours. Once signed up, patrons can scan their library card at a machine outside the building, which unlocks the front door.
Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian during self-service hours, according to the form that participants sign.
Baiza noted that before launching the program library staff met with officials at other libraries throughout the country that have installed open+ and that their programs haven't run into issues with theft or safety concerns.
Woodland started its open access program in November and the option was publicized on signs in the library, Baiza said. Last week, the Santa Clara County Library District sent out an email about the program. It isn't yet advertised on the library website. According to Baiza, the idea was to do a "soft launch" of the program.
Senior Library Clerk Kaon Fong estimated that since the email was sent out, roughly 10-12 people have been signing up each day. The library hasn't run into any real issues thus far, he said. Over 80 people had signed up by the end of January, Baiza said.
"I think people are really happy that they now are able to come in the morning," Fong said.
If the open access program is successful, Baiza said that the hope is to expand it to other libraries in the Santa Clara County Library District.
Woodland's self-service hours run from 8-11 a.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. For more information, visit the Woodland Library and speak with a librarian.
Correction: An previous version of this story incorrectly stated the days on which self-service hours operate. They are on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
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