Modern libraries are much more than lending books, they have become a community space, where people of all ages can spend hours participating in group meetings, trainings, conferences, exhibitions, play games, watch TV, listen to music, talk with counselors, pay taxes and much more. In a society where the library is considered a “third place”, a local meeting place, the social interaction and the exchange between people has become the increasingly important and the staff needs more time for the patrons. This is just one reason why implementing a self-service library system is crucial, now.

Furthermore, librarians should lead the way in technology use among fellow residents and gain more time for the most important activity: helping patrons. Since the main mission of libraries is to offer equality of access to information for every citizen, then why not be a trendsetter in digital use and implement an innovative self-service library system?


A small number of libraries have been using self-service library systems – especially in the Scandinavian libraries – and the systems are becoming more and more complex with each new technological development. Until recently, libraries used the self-service library system just to automate simple processes like taking out and returning of items or electronic registration of users.

But lately, new forms of self-service solutions have emerged in the form of machines for different processes, such as inventory reader, printing, and copying, fines payment, reception of returned materials or even dusting off the books. Also, to guarantee the availability out of normal opening hours, you can implement a surveillance system that ensures that patrons have access to the library via their library card.

self-service library system

Source: Lyngsoe SystemsCC



The steps to follow in successfully implementing a self-service technology are explained by the Danish professor Carl Gustav Johannsen, a dedicated researcher on the future role of public libraries:

1. Select the technological infrastructure

The first step is researching the solutions and choosing the suitable ones for the library’s needs. Researching is a complex part when we talk about innovative technologies that offer new functionalities that we’ve never heard of before. Therefore, the dialogue with the supplier is extremely important, as they are the most suitable to answer all your questions and give you demonstrations of how the solution will work in a particular library.

Remember to clarify the installation process and discuss and agree on specific integrations that you may need. For this exchange of information to go smoothly it is highly recommended that the library appoints a representative with technical skills to deal with all the discussions.

2. Plan and run the installation of the new library system

Considering that it is a technological solution implemented in a public institution and there are different decision makers, the installation process might take a while. Additionally, the length of the implementation process depends on the complexity of the project. For this reason, it is highly recommended to make an implementation plan and stick to it!

To facilitate the process, all those involved in the project from the library and the suppliers should have specific tasks that they have to fulfill based on the project plan. In this step, the library should make sure that the physical library is ensuring the new use of the self-service solutions and try to foresee any technical problems or potential issues with the patrons.

3. Operation and promotion of the self-service library system

After finishing the installation comes the test period where the library can see exactly how the new solution is working and how it is influencing their activity and the users’ activity. In this part, it is important to focus on promoting the recent changes to the local community.

You can simply use online channels such as social media or the library’s website and rapidly reach the majority of patrons. They should be informed how the changes will affect them and most importantly you should provide them with the resources to learn how to use the new library system. Also, when implementing innovative technologies libraries tend to be more attractive to the patrons as they are curious to try them.

Stay tuned for our blog post next week where we talk to Carl Gustav Johannsen, the famous writer in the world of Danish libraries. He will share more insights on how technology can facilitate the library’s activity and at the same time attract more users to its perimeters. Find us on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our blog to receive the library insights directly to your e-mail.

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