Monday, December 7, 2015

Lockers, Theft and Trust

I talked to a branch manager of a rather small Carnegie Library about lending recreation equipment. She said to me something to the effect  "look at this place, we have no room". Last week I came back to her and said, "What if you didn't have to lend the items, just keys to lockers holding the items". Her reply was "This we have room for"

 Outdoor & vandal proof lockers


-Each locker can have  one  or  several related  recreation   items in it.

 - Items in  each locker will be geared to a specific recreation category(baseball, gardening tools , children's toys,Lego, children's books  ) , or  special need(autism , wheelchair,  visual impairment   etc) .  

-You would stock multiple lockers of   high demand items, single lockers  of lower demand   items.  Special order for low demand items.

-You go to library to check out a  locker key with your library card.  

-For most items keys must be returned before library closing.

In a Library only locker system
-Library responsible for keys/lending/fines

- parks department responsible  for locker installation/stocking/maintenance.. 

In a Library-Parks locker  system
-Library responsible for keys/lending/fines

- parks department responsible  for locker installation/stocking/maintenance.. 

 Shared Locker Scenarios 
 A thought- what if a locker was filled with multiple copies of low cost/high demand items as   ping pong paddles/balls, jump ropes, chess sets,  hula hoops, magazines,  childrens books , or frisbees   and what if multiple people  were allowed to borrow keys to the same  lockers from the library. . These items are so low cost that even if some were stolen  the replacement cost would be minimal. Would it work? I have no idea, you test and see what happens. 

-Additionally schools, community organizations,   and special needs groups/individuals     can checkout keys to empty lockers, to store their own recreation equipment on site at a Loose ParkBy allowing groups  long term access to a large locker in a park, inclusive play ,  becomes much easier to achieve in our parks. 

At Hudson Place in NYC's Riverside Park a community group stores equipment in a locker...

This allows pogo sticks(left bottom),unicycles  and other loose parts recreation objects to be used by parkgoers. I've talked to groups in other parks that would like to do the same.

At NYC's Bryant Park, equipment is left on tables during the day and locked up at night

 The Cildren's Magical Garden is a key access community garden

Hula hoops are available in it, for those who have key access. The community garden itself in this case acts as then shared  locker.

Meeting Demand
Fixed equipment parks can take years to expand facilities. Using the library/locker  model, if you have greater demand, you just order more lockers, if space permits.

Really large items can be stored in really large lockers such as this special needs tricycle.

Options for   Parks Not Near Libraries

When Public Libraries are adjacent or near parks equipment/key loan can be for just the day. When distances from library to park are further, key borrowing is not as easy. 

Two thoughts  for these locations...

-let people borrow items/keys  for weeks at a time like do  library books.
 -Items can be put on  reserve as are library books 

At the Ann Arbor  District Library  equipmen in their unusual objects  collection circulate  either  1 or 2 week., and items can be placed on reserve.

                               One of 27 telescopes available to borrow at Ann Arbor

2-It could  be possible to  request  and return keys by mail . This would be good especially for special needs folks.

  Through  Mail-a-Book, I provide library services to customers who cannot get to the library due to age or disability. ... The basic rule is, if you can’t get to your library due to age or disability, you qualify for service.  link

3-Hire a  "Robot  Park  Ranger " for  parks to  lend recreation equipment, library card number is your lending key

One of 9 Library Express Lockers   serving the Portage  County District Library, Ohio

Electronic locker systems are expensive and far more prone to failure (above) then mechanical key  systems.

  I surveyed  a number of librarians who lend recreation equipment  about the issue and they did not find this a worrisome issue.

 I talked to  a branch librarian about stolen  books/DVD's , she said when they do branch inventory they find A LOT of items  have gone missing.  It's part of the cost of running a library. 

There are ways to minimize theft.For instance, 

-The Mc Arthur Library in Biddlesford Maine, does not leave recreation equipment out, they leave laminated pictures of the equipment out. You go to the desk with the picture and they give you the item. 

 -Unlike my local branch where open stack books/dvd's  are stolen with no clue who's doing the stealing, if equipment is being stolen from lockers,  a trail of who had key access may be constructed. If just one person is doing the stealing, he can soon be located. 

An Internet based camera can be pointed at the lockers. This should discourage break ins.

I hope locker access can be made available foe everyone without issues. In locations where there are "issues", locker access might be limited to special needs . 

 Bryant Park has over 4,500 movable chairs, and they are never locked up or taken in. “Everyone gets worried about the chairs being stolen, but that rarely happens,” remarks Biederman. link

 Rockefeller Park in NYC leaves out a number of items on their lawn. I would think these are taken in at night.

Gameon  run by NYC's Downtown Alliance left out unattended corn hole, giant Connect Four, lounge chairs, and shuffleboard equipment. I assume these items are stored away at night.

 Play  items like hula hoops, jump ropes,ping pong paddles,  Frisbee, hackey sack, Rubiks cubes,  yo yo's   are so low cost    that one can leave  leaving them on a lawn  during the day on a trust basis.  If trust  works and you have a acceptable loss rate great.

Please Don't Steal Me  A new study finds that equipment used in scientific field research can best be protected from theft and vandalism by tagging it with a polite, personal message that provides a brief overview of the research and an appeal to leave the equipment undisturbedlink

In this  study in Germany,scientific  equipment left unattended in a park with a personal "please don't steal me" message, had the lowest rate of disturbance. Adding a similar personal message to litems stored in lockers might be useful also.

 Totland Berkley Ca

Historically, the main attraction of Totland, for the tots, are the dozens of push toys and ride-ons that have been left by families who have outgrown them. There was no need to bring your own toys — the place was covered with them.
Little people delighted in trying out all of the colorful plastic vehicles, and even babies would find countless new surfaces to test out their pulling-up-to-a-stand prowess. Exersaucers and baby slides were often stationed on the grass as well. Time flies when you’re a toddler at Totland and many children are carried away kicking and screaming each day; they just don’t want to leave. link


Trust is not perfect, sometimes it doesn't work at all

Toy thief at neighborhood toddler park

"Unfortunately, another adjacent neighbor has recently decided he doesn't like the noise of the kids and has therefore started removing (stealing) the toys in an effort to discourage kids from coming to the park (apparently he's unfamiliar with the Grinch story...)". link

An expirement, try leaving  low cost loose objects like jump ropes, frisbees, childrens books, magazines, Chess sets  and hula hoops in a open enclosure  in a park or on a  library lawn, for anyone to use.Add polite signage like the Germans did. Lock enclosure  overnight. If there are no losses or acceptable losses, great.

 I would think what will occur is that  there are locations  that this will work(Totland) and places that it won't work (Highland Park).

Policies on Left Toys

Berkley Ca

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