Hoover Public Library Launches First ‘Library in a Cafe’

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Hoover’s first remote library locker at East 59. Photo via Olivia Moses

If you can’t make it to the Hoover Public Library, they will come to you!

This week, city leaders and residents of Hoover hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Birmingham area’s first remote lockers and libraries program.

The location? East 59 Café in The Village at Lee Branch shopping center next to US 280 (701 Doug Baker Blvd # 103, Birmingham, AL 35242).

That’s right, a library in a cafe. Here is how it works.

  • Call the library or go online at hooverlibrary.org and put a book on hold. Select that you want to pick up the book at East 59.
  • Staff at the main Hoover Library location will take orders for books from the East 59 Café several times a week and put them in secure lockers. It’s like the Amazon lockers you’ve seen in town.
  • When you get to East 59, go to the Remote Lockers and scan your library card. The locker will open one of these lockers and you can take out your equipment.
  • There is also a secure return bin on site for you to put your returns
  • Anyone with a Jefferson County library card can use the new program (and that includes people in Shelby County.

Need a tutorial? Watch the Hoover Public Library Youtube video on using lockers.

Serve Hoover Residents Everywhere

Hoover Library
Hoover’s first remote library locker at East 59 Tape Cut. Photo via Olivia Moïse

When it comes to finding creative and innovative ways to serve the public, Hoover Public Library is on the rise.

Earlier this year, Bham Now reported how the Hoover Public Library set up 15 “small lending libraries” in 15 apartment complexes across town, providing children with free books. The program is very successful.

Birmingham, Alabama, Crestline, Little Free Library
A small free library in Birmingham. Photo by Terri Robertson for Bham Now

According to Hoover Public Library Amanda Borden, the expansion of the library’s scope was intentional.

“When I took on this role 5 years ago, the first thing we did was write a strategic plan. We have identified the need to make library service more convenient. We have a fantastic library… but with 90,000 people spread across what has become a big city, we really need agency service. The East Hoover area (Lee Branch, Inverness, Greystone) is the furthest from our library, so we wanted to start there.

Luckily, E59 (a local cafe) which operates inside the Hoover Library was building a new full-service location in Lee Branch. We thought, “We have a cafe in a library, wouldn’t it be great if we also had a library in a cafe? So we joined forces with E59 – whose mission like ours is to be a real space for community gathering. They were delighted to house the locker remotely.

Thanks to CTO Carrie Steinmehl, HPL secured funding for the book locker through a Federal Library Services in Technology (LSTA) grant administered by Alabama Public Library Services (APLS) . The City of Hoover also contributed funds making the project possible.

Hoover Public Library
Hoover’s first remote library locker at East 59 Tape Cut. Photo via Olivia Moïse

Beyond the lockers, East 59 has announced that it will loan its space twice a week for library programs for children and adults.

The place will truly become a library in a café.

“We hope to someday have a full library in the East Hoover area, but until the economy cooperates we are excited to be able to offer a place to pick up materials, return materials and attend programs, anything we can do to move library service beyond our own four walls and into the community is a priority for us, ”Borden concluded.

Are you going to visit East 59 and try their remote lockers and attend a program? Let us know what it is by tagging us on social media at @bhamnow


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