Book-lending machine coming to Toronto's Union Station


A book vending machine at the Bethlehem Area Public Library in Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Express-Times, Lisa Massey)

It's going to get a little harder for commuters to make excuses for not reading. 

The Toronto Public Library plans to roll out a book-lending machine at Union Station, the city's busiest commuter station, by the end of the year. The library kiosk is intended to widen the library's user base, and make the library more accessible to Torontonians since traditional library hours won't apply.

Although the machine's exact features and functions have not been determined, a report released earlier this year revealed that the lending machines could contain high demand books, DVDs, and maybe even downloadable e-books.

Book-lending machines are not a new concept in Canada. Toronto has been studying the idea for several years based on trials in Ottawa and Edmonton as well as a number of American and European examples. The Ottawa Public Library runs several successful kiosks at the Hunt Club-Riverside community centre, located in an area without a full library nearby. In Edmonton, the kiosk at Century Park Light Rail Transit was launched in 2010 and can hold about 400 items, including paperbacks, DVDs, and video games. 

According to a proposal presented at a Toronto Public Library Board meeting, the kiosk at Union Station would be funded by the city and will likely cost in the neighbourhood of $200,000. If the trial at Union Station is successful, more kiosks could be on their way. In Ottawa, there are still no immediate plans to buy new machines. 

Note: an earlier version of this story stated that the Edmonton lending machine was out of service and undergoing repairs. It is now fully operational.

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