February Newsletter – Self-service Kiosks            


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Self-service Kiosks


What is a self-service kiosk?


A self-service kiosk is an interactive electronic terminal that is used to search information, order or reserve items, and access user data. These kiosks can be used as a method of ordering and payment at a restaurant, for buying movie tickets, as a self-serve checkout in stores, as bank ATM machines, as a source of information at a museum, or for check-in at an airport. In a library the public uses self-service kiosks to book computer time, to look up an item in the catalogue, check when their items are due, and to renew a book or a DVD.


Rise in popularity


Self-service kiosks offer members of the public a more convenient and time-friendly way to access services and information. In busier facilities such as in an airport terminal, self-service kiosks have become valuable machines as they can reduce wait time, allow users to search for items of interest, and can be programmed with the facility’s system of organizing – like an archival room. In recent years, self-service kiosks have become more and more popular in public facilities across Canada as an increase in technology is shifting the way public spaces are used.


Types of self-service kiosks:


Digital Order Kiosk:


Records and prints transactions that a user requests. These kiosks are available at many public facilities such as a library and can be used to reserve items like books and DVD’s. Users can also use these kiosks as a self-serving check-out station or return their items through the kiosk. Digital order kiosks are usually equipped with a printing mechanism that provides the user with a receipt of their transaction and it can also scan a membership card.


Information Kiosk:


Allows the general public to access information by searching and browsing particular areas of a facility’s database. These kiosks are usually preloaded with information and are interactive with the public. They are not generally used for searching the internet. Some facilities have installed information kiosks to promote events, educate the public about a specific subject, or advertise new items and services coming to that area in the future.


Internet Kiosk:


Provides the general public with basic internet access. They can be located near the main entrance of a hospital or around the computer station of a library. A keyboard is usually always accompanied at one of these kiosks and some of them use touch technology while others will have a track-pad or ball. Users will usually need identification (like an access card or library card) and agree to an internet policy or terms of use before they can access the internet. Organizations should also to have their own firewall system installed on internet kiosks prior to making them available for the public's use.


Questions for Youth Interns


What software program does your organization use for its kiosk?


Alexis: Bibiotheca.


Celine: Polaris.


Eric: Windows.


Fiona: The kiosk runs on Liber8 while the computers run on Windows 10.


Joseph: This kiosk is running Firefox-ESR as its main tool. Firefox-ESR. In the background, the kiosk is using two extensions: Greasemonkey to prevent unwanted links from running, and M-Full to ensure the browser stays full screen at all times. It is also running a script to prevent the user from doing anything other than what the kiosk is meant for. This was accomplished using xev and xdotool to prevent the mouse’s right click. All of this is also automated on start-up. In addition the kiosk is using the CUPS package along with drivers to access the STAR TSP100 printer. All you need to do is turn the system on and in about 30 seconds you have a fully functioning self-check out kiosk.


What are some of its technical features?


Alexis: Decent colour contrast; Allows for extra time for people to complete tasks; Equipped with audio instructions; No current voice-activated equipment; Very compatible with library’s current system of organizing; The kiosk also has a change language feature and a change screen view.


Celine: Our screens all feature colour contrast and adjustable brightness. All kiosks are compatible with the library collection. They do not feature audio instructions or voice commands at the moment. Further accessibility features could be an asset which we should look into.


Eric: Good colour contrast; Allows for extra time for people to complete tasks – if they run out of time they can ask a library assistant to add more; Equipped with audio instructions; No voice-activated equipment; Compatible with library’s current system of organizing.


Fiona: Good colour contrast on the display screen; Extra time for people to complete tasks; Options to change language from English to French; Touchscreen operated; Touchscreen keyboard; Text scaling for larger or smaller font size; Speakers equipped.


Joseph: The kiosk has a 19 inch colour screen! There is extra time for people to complete tasks; Compatible with our library’s current system and it runs off of a raspberry Pi2, so it has very low power consumption – at max load it only draws 0.01 KWH.


What are some of its structural features?


Alexis: The kiosk is approximately five feet tall with a very stable base; It is not equipped with volume control or headset jacks; It has a touch screen and therefore no keypads; The kiosk is cord operated and plugged into our internet.


Celine: The kiosks are height adjustable and feature touch screens. They are connected by cords and use wireless internet to connect to Polaris.


Eric: The kiosk has wheel chair access and has headset jacks with volume control. There are specialized keypads. 


Fiona: Barcode reader; 19" touchscreen display; Reading zone; reads the RFID tags; Built in printer – prints receipts and holds information; 20" W x 57" L; Can accommodate approximately 10 items at any one time


Joseph: 51"  tall the screen and printer and 35" inches tall to the scanner and mouse; No headset jacks; this model cannot be used by a blind person.

What are some of the down-sides for the public in using the kiosk?

  • Some patrons do not understand the technology.
  • Some patrons prefer to have a desk clerk check their books out.
  • Some patrons are confused by kiosks but a staff member is always available for help when needed.
  • There is the potential for a malfunction.
  • Our kiosks alert the patron of any fines – however – there is no area of the kiosk to accept payment. This means the patron would still have to visit the circulation desk.
  • It also contributes to less human interaction at the library.

As with any new technology, we expect these problems will decrease as patrons become more familiar with the process.


How often does the public use the kiosk?


Alexis: Around five kiosk interactions per day.


Celine: Approximately half of the patrons checking out items use the self-serve kiosks.


Eric: This depends on if all the library assistants are busy and if the patron knows how to use the kiosk.


Fiona: Frequently. Our patrons enjoy using the self-service kiosk as it is quick and easy to use. The self-service kiosk allows our patrons to be in charge of their own experiences.


Joseph: It was just installed recently so there hasn’t been too much traffic yet, although it has been used a few times each day.


Where is your kiosk located?


Alexis: Front entrance near checkout computer.


Celine: The self-serve check-out kiosks are located at the front of the library near the circulation and information desks. The catalogue computers are located near the public internet computers.


Eric:Close to the library exits.


Fiona:One self-checkout kiosk is located near the primary circulation desk while the other kiosk is located near the main desk in the children’s library. The OverDrive kiosk is located near the primary circulation desk and the information kiosks are located throughout the library collection bookshelves.


Joseph: The kiosk is located by the front desk to allow for staff to assist patrons during the trial run of the self-service check out kiosk.


How many kiosks does your location have?


Alexis: Just the one.


Celine: The main branch currently has two self-serve check-out kiosks as well as three catalogue computers and several internet computers for patrons to use. We also have a self-serve return kiosk where patrons can get their books checked in automatically.


Eric: There is one self-check-out kiosk and a couple of research computers with access to the library’s database.


Fiona: There are three digital order kiosks (two self-checkout stations, one OverDrive station), three information kiosks (online public access catalogues), and seven touchscreen internet kiosks.


Joseph: Just the one.


Does your organization have any future plans to install more kiosks?


Alexis: Not at the moment, our library’s budget is limited.


Celine: At the moment, we do not have any plans to install more kiosks.


Eric: Yes, when they finish the newest expansion they will add more kiosks.


Fiona: Yes, the library is exploring the possibility of interactive-information kiosks. We currently have digital displays that inform patrons of upcoming events, information and programming. However, the library is hoping to make this experience more interactive and experience driven.


Joseph:We do plan on installing and implementing another kiosk program on the other seven patron computers. The software that we will be using for that is a Debian server running Libki-Server and seven client computers running Libki-Client


Self-service Kiosk Cost Estimate

Hanover Public Library – IT Technician, Joseph: The entire system was built for very little due to the spare equipment here. If someone else were to completely copy this setup it would cost roughly $600. I would also recommend getting a Raspberry Pi3 as they are much faster.

Quantity Description Cost
1 Raspberry Pi2 $50 (sale and used)
1 Kiosk Stand $38
1 Optical Mouse spare
1 Barcode Scanner spare
1 Star TSP100 Thermal Printer spare
1 LG 19" monitor spare
1 USB Bank spare
1 Power Bar spare

Thank you to Essa Public Library, Fort Frances Public Library, Guelph Public Library, Hanover Public Library and Norfolk County Public Library for sharing your stories and photos for the self-service kiosk newsletter!

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