Library locker delivers downtown access for Penn State Altoona community

tall metal locker system with central touchscreen and dozens of small narrow doors, some with windows to see book covers

The remoteLocker system managed by Penn State University Libraries’ Robert E. Eiche Library is on Penn Building’s third floor of Penn State Altoona’s Downtown Campus, directly across from the building’s rear entrance elevator.

Credit: Penn State University Libraries

ALTOONA, Pa. — When expansion at Penn State Altoona extended its footprint and as a result removed hundreds of students and employees from convenient access to library materials, the resourcefulness of Penn State University Libraries’ faculty librarians brought the library to them.

Penn State Altoona opened the first building on its downtown campus in 1999, and since then, students and faculty in several academic program areas, including communications and business, have enjoyed additional space for classrooms and meeting facilities. However, the Robert E. Eiche Library is in the center of Penn State Altoona’s Ivyside campus, about two and a half miles away.

“Today, students in several majors have fewer classes at Ivyside, taking them farther away from our resources in the library. We needed to find a convenient, cost-effective, secure solution that would place library materials at the downtown campus, and the remoteLocker has delivered that,” Bonnie Imler, head librarian at Eiche Library, said.

The remoteLocker uses a self-checkout system similar to those used by some grocery and retail stores and online shippers for no-contact pickup. Eiche Library’s locker, found on the third floor of the Penn Building, has 24 lockers of varying sizes, which can hold as many as four books or a DVD series.

A feature of the locker is its flexibility. Instructors with classes at the downtown campus can use lockers to distribute course reserve materials to their students, and a “browse and borrow” feature has clear locker doors for items that users can check out on impulse. A return slot also works by card swipe, so library users know they have verified their return of materials securely.

“The addition of the locker system is just one example of the many ways that libraries like Penn State University Libraries prioritize innovation and access, evolving to meet the needs of today’s academic research library users,” Imler said.

"The location of the remoteLocker is central to student classrooms and faculty/staff offices. The skin, or cover, of the distribution system has the same incredible view of the pond that our Ivyside students enjoy from the Eiche Library.”