The Newest Way To Check Out Library Books In Houston? Vending Machines

As part of an initiative to bring the library to more people, the Houston Public Library has launched a new way for people to check out and return books on the go: vending machines.

Officially known as BookLink, the first two book vending machines were opened this week in downtown Houston — one is located in One Allen Center next to Amille’s Coffee and the other is in the food court at The Shops at Houston Center.   

“We just are so excited that we’re bringing this service to Houstonians where it can be more convenient for them to interact with the library,” said Rhea Lawson, Executive Director of the Houston Public Library. “All you need is a library card.”

The machines are simple to use. Users scan their library cards, enter their PIN, and open the door to select the books they want. After the door is shut, the machine runs inventory to determine what’s been checked out. Users then have the option to print a receipt showing what they’ve borrowed and when it’s due.

The machines are also equipped with a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Lawson says the machines are part of the library’s HPL Everywhere initiative to provide library services in locations throughout the city.

“We believe that the library should be everywhere, and we’re trying to try different opportunities, or provide different opportunities, for people to interact with us,” she said.

The next book vending machine will be placed at Discovery Green.