Extended Access Gives the Keys Back to the Community
Hamilton Public Library’s Freelton Branch was the first in Canada to leverage bibliotheca’s open+ technology to offer customers Extended Access. HPL is located in Ontario, in Canada’s Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). The system’s 22 branches and two beloved Bookmobiles cover a 439 mi² / 1137 km² area. The Freelton Branch is our northernmost rural branch. By using a unique model of open+, and adding virtual assistance to support customers remotely, Extended Access connected our rural customers with information staff at the system’s Central Library, when needed.
With Extended Access, open library hours increased from 17 to 60 hours per week, and customer visits and programming participation subsequently increased. Pre-registered customers use the branch, choosing materials, studying and researching online using reliable Wi-Fi.
HPL’s CEO Paul Takala has advice for libraries looking to follow this path: “The most important thing about the process is trust. We had to make sure all the pieces were in place before we opened. The board’s reassurances that they were using this to expand access and not reduce staffing went a long way as well,” he says. “We had to go the extra mile because we were the first. As more people begin to do this it will only become easier. There is a huge opportunity to replicate this elsewhere and we’ll certainly be doing that. open+ puts the keys back in the hands of the community – the people who fund the library.”
This successful pilot encouraged a second Extended Access Branch, with early data suggesting similar positive results.
Now, with careful planning and attention to the pilot principles, additional locations are planned. Join Shelley McKay, HPL’s Communications Manager, at LMCC 2019 for her walk-through of this new service – using planning, technology and outreach to better serve Hamilton residents.
Shelley McKay oversees communications for the Hamilton Public Library (HPL) system. She and her team are responsible for promoting the Library’s 22 branches as a vibrant community hub. Shelley joined HPL after working as Director of Communications and Development at Forests Ontario, where she grew the organization into a nationally-recognized, non-profit institution. Shelley has 20 years of experience building brands in Canada and the US through marketing, public relations, issues management, public affairs, media relations and outreach. She regularly presents on communications leadership and serves on several industry association and community boards.