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Billings Public Library debuts 'express lockers' accessible 24/7

Posted at 1:29 PM, Jan 13, 2022

BILLINGS – Library patrons no longer have to wait until business hours to check out their next library book.

On Wednesday, the Billings Public Library began the use of its new express lockers located just outside of the library door.

“The lockers came about through some of the changes we had to make like many of the other businesses during COVID. And we really had to get creative about how we could allow people to use the library, but in a safe way, so we saw that other libraries in the country had been utilizing a pickup locker system, and we really thought let’s try that out,” said Kelsie Rubich, information systems coordinator at the Billings Public Library.

When the pandemic first began, the library was closed and used as a daycare space for the children of healthcare workers.

The library then began curbside service, with employees bringing out holds to library patrons as they sat in their cars.

Eventually, the curbside service ended for staffing and sustainability reasons.

“The Library Express Lockers allow us to expand access past the open hours of our physical building and continue our mission of providing resources to anyone and everyone in our community,” said Gavin Woltjer, Billings Public Library director.

To use the lockers, patrons can place items on hold by logging into the Billings Public Library’s online catalog, through the app, or by calling the library at (406)657-8258.

“They’ll be notified when their items are ready for pick up and they just need to come down to the locker anytime that’s convenient for them, scan their bar code or type in their number and a locker will open for them. Grab their stuff out, grab their receipt, shut the door and go,” Rubich said.

The express lockers at the Billings Public Library are the first and only ones in the state.

“We’re hoping to have additional locations in the coming year,” Rubich said.

Hundreds of community members made donations through the Billings Public Library Foundation to purchase the lockers.

“We were blown away by the support of the community for this project,” said Leslie Modrow, the library foundation director.

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