The West Central Community Center has received a new, futuristic friend.
The Spokane Public Library opened a 24-hour library kiosk at the center this week in an attempt to better serve a community that has had limited resources in the past.
The kiosk is essentially a massive book vending machine. It offers 340 media items to choose from, ranging from children's books to popular classics and new titles. Choices will be switched out periodically, just as they would at any library branch.
New 24/7 library kiosk outside West Central Community Center
This contraption is the first of its kind in Washington state. Rae-Lynn Barber, the administrative services coordinator at Spokane Public Library, says the kiosk was placed in West Central in hopes of giving the community access to a resource they've been deprived of.
"We've struggle to deliver resources to the West Central neighborhood," Barber says. "[The West Central Community Center] is also the only community center in the city without a library on its campus, so that made it a natural fit."
Books and movies are displayed in three rows behind glass. If you don't like what you see displayed, clicking "show more titles" on the touchpad screen will prompt the machine to rotate the shelves, allowing more books to glide by.
If nothing strikes your fancy, the library is working on a function that will allow readers to place holds through the kiosk, which should be up and running in just a few days, Barber says. That way, West Central community members will have access to the same titles as any library in the area.
Additionally, readers are able to return or renew items, pay fines and can access the kiosk's WiFi hotspot. If you're a late-night reader, no worries; it's open 24-7.
Though it basically has the same functionality of a vending machine, there's something much cooler about pushing a couple buttons and finding a book in your hands rather than a candy bar.
The library held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the kiosk on Tuesday. Barber says the response was "very positive." The people who showed up didn't hesitate to check out new books right away.
"It was fantastic to see," Barber says. "The center is extremely happy to have it there."