Yacolt Library Express: A model for unstaffed library service


  • Sam Wallin Fort Vancouver Regional Library District


public libraries, rural services, innovation, self checkout


An unstaffed library is much the same as a staffed one, with some key differences. First, ‘unstaffed’ does not mean ‘never staffed.’ It means that patrons can complete all the parts of their visit without staff being present, including: entering the building, locating materials, checking them out, and checking them in again. Patrons can access the internet via library computers or wifi.
Patrons can connect with staff remotely via phone or online chat. To make all these aspects of library service available and useful in a mostly self-service library, a lot of little things need to be in place. Each aspect presents its own puzzles to solve, and some things will prove more difficult than others to implement.

The Yacolt Library Express has been very successful so far, circulating as many materials each year as some of our fully staffed libraries in larger towns. While the people of Yacolt haven’t given up on having a larger, fully staffed library of their own, there is one thing they can get with an unstaffed library that would be very hard for the library district to deliver in Yacolt with a fully staffed library: 68 open hours per week over seven days.

Author Biography

Sam Wallin, Fort Vancouver Regional Library District

Sam Wallin is the Special Projects Coordinator for the Fort vancouver Reginal Library District.