graphic describing Azalea Library's after hours locker program

By Ivy Corder, marketing and outreach coordinator, Azalea Regional Library System

The Azalea Regional Library System now offers a service for customers to pick up books and other library materials in lockers after regular operating hours and enjoy the convenience of quickly retrieving holds while on the go. The SmartAxess lockers also provide contactless, safe, and easy 24/7 access for those who prefer not to enter the building or who need outside accessibility. Patrons simply scan their PINES library card or manually enter the number on a touch screen and an assigned locker door will open where checked-out materials may be retrieved.

“Library closures experienced during the worst of the pandemic saw many librarians thinking creatively about service and how best to provide for their communities,” said Stacy Brown, Executive Director of Azalea Regional Library System. “Smart lockers have been on our radar for quite some time because of their convenience and ease of access, and they fit perfectly into our longterm plan to provide new, innovative services to our communities. We are thrilled to place a smart locker in every county we serve.”

The lockers were acquired through the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ American Rescue Plan Digital Inclusion Grant administered by Georgia Public Library Service. Customers are no longer limited to library business hours in order to collect their items; the lockers allow them to fit a library visit into their busy schedules without having to worry about making it before the doors close.

Barbara Lester, a patron of rural Sparta-Hancock County Library, lives some distance from her local library and likes to plan out her errands when coming into town. She often finds it difficult to make it to the library before closing and appreciates the accessibility the smart lockers provide. She just calls the library, requests her books, and when she arrives, they are in an assigned locker ready for pickup.

“I am very excited about the new lockers available at my library,” said Ms. Lester.  “I love our library and its services. This is a great innovation!”

The lockers are located throughout the regional system at these locations: Eatonton-Putnam County Library (Eatonton), Greene County Library (Greensboro), Jasper County Library (Monticello), Monroe-Walton County Library (Monroe), Morgan County Library (Madison), and Sparta-Hancock County Library (Sparta). Additional smart lockers are being planned for the three other Walton County Libraries and several service points within the region’s service area.