The goal of this study is to determine public library borrowers' responses to and experiences with self-checkout terminals introduced in Canadian public libraries. This study will gather experiences from a variety of adult public library borrowers from one medium-sized public library which has implemented a self-checkout system and has had this system in place for at least one year. Participants will include those who frequently use the self-checkout terminal as well as those who frequently use the traditional circulation counter to checkout materials.
The proposed study is part of the general area of research problems about automation and self-service technologies in libraries. Currently, research on self-checkout in libraries has focused on quantitative approaches to understanding patron use and little has been done of a qualitative nature. Existing research has looked at how age, gender, education and use of other self-service technologies have correlated with decisions to use or not use self-checkout. This research has also looked at whether or not the privileging of particular aspects of customer service (e.g. time, efficiency, effort) has an effect on the patron's choice of either self-checkout or traditional checkout. This study will address the gap in current research by looking at self-checkout in public libraries from a qualitative approach and gathering individual perceptions of self-checkout and traditional checkout to determine if there are ways of making self-checkout a better option for the borrower.
This study will provide insight into the reception of self-checkout terminals within the public library setting as well as constructive feedback on the usability and viability of self-checkout terminals in public libraries. This study's results may have an impact on other libraries outside of the public realm (e.g. academic libraries) and may also be a tool for libraries in making decisions about the implementation of further self-service technologies as they are developed. This study will benefit the field of Library and Information Studies by further developing qualitative research and by filling a gap left by researchers who have not taken the patron experience seriously as a research subject.
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