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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Suggestion for CTA - Add Chicago Public Library Kiosks to Rail Stations


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CTA's relatively new Chairman Chairperson Carole Brown did a really gutsy thing a few months ago when in the midst of their budget crisis she srt up a blog for CTA customers to ask questions and make comments publicly about the crisis. The crisis is over for this year, but the blog remains a valuable conduit for Q & A about issues important to customers.

In a thread about real estate transactions in general, I put in my own suggestion about library kiosks at CTA Rail Stations. Read the text below and if you have a comment, please add it to the Carole's blog, not my own.

Carole's Brown's Post

This is a little tangential to the questions raised here that ask about sales of current CTA property because I would like to make a suggestion about use of CTA property, specifically CTA rail stations.

At least some, perhaps all of the BART stations in the San Francisco - Oakland - Dublin California area have library kiosks where riders can check out and return library books either in the stations themselves or while waiting on the platforms, I forget which. It in fact makes most sense for them to be just outside the paid area to ease deliveries and pickups by the library staff.

I think that finding stations where this kind of thing could be implemented would be a great idea for Chicago on a number of counts, especially now that technology has made putting books on hold at a particular branch much easier than in the past.

The benefits would be that:

1) It would encourage reading by riders of all ages including students, making for example the books in the City of Chicago's One Book, One Chicago program even more accesible to city residents.

2) It would allow parents too busy to make a separate trip to the library to get age appropriate books to read to their children at home at night an opportunity to pick something up on the way home from work.

3) It would provide better access to educational resources for those in low income jobs to learn new language or job skills in order to move up on the economic scale.

4) It would provide many more locations for people to register to vote across the region.

5) While each library kiosk might not hold a very large number of books, with access to an online terminal, riders could order books to be ordered through the standard system to be sent to their favorite station and held their for pick up, either by searching for and printing the book at home and work and dropping it off at the kiosk with their library card number or looking it up on thier way in or out. While in some cases it might take a week to get a book or video this way, the Chicago Public Library has an automated phone system calls library users when books requested on hold come in.

6) Finally, it would leverage one of transit's key advantages over automobile travel, the ability to do something else during your commute rather than fight traffic.

While I am the writer of a comedy blog, I hope you will take this suggestion seriously and talk to Chicago Public Library staff about whether this could be tried at several key stations (without knowing well where there are already libraries immediately next to El stations such as Fullerton?) suggested test sites might be 95th Red, Jefferson Park Blue, Howard Red, Midway and Pulaski Orange, Pulaski Green, etc.

I really think that this could be a truly exciting program and one that would add a great deal of enjoyment to Chicago's Transit Riders.

Please comment as you can. I would also like to hear reactions of other customers. This might have to be pulled out into another thread for proper reactions though.

Ideally, funding for this would be from outside grants, not the CTA farebox.


So that's my suggestion. What do you think?

That's it for this file.

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