The library book drop: always here for you

In urban planning the various objects and equipment installed on streets and sidewalks are collectively called “street furniture.” These objects include things like mailboxes, benches, traffic lights, bus stops, and street signs. This public library and most others long ago added some useful furniture to the mix: book drops.

The humble book drop serves one function: convenience. They welcome back the books, DVDs and CDs you borrowed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We have three book drop locations in town: at the Princeton Shopping Center, in Palmer Square, and on Sylvia Beach Way adjacent to the library. Two of the locations actually have sets of two drops: one for books and the other for media such as DVDs, audiobooks, and CDs. The reason for keeping them separate is to avoid damage to discs that could be caused by a heavy bunch of books falling on them.

The receptacle inside each drop is simple but clever. Each unit has a bin with casters underneath. When it is time to empty the drop the bin can be switched with an empty one or the contents can be transferred to postal-type bins to be brought back to the library. The floor of each bin is padded and supported by springs so the library materials never have to fall very far from the bottom of the chute.

Pictured to the right is an empty media bin pulled out from the back of the drop. Notice the separate smaller section for CDs to the left of the larger area for DVDs and audiobooks. The older jewel-box style CD cases are so fragile that this drop is designed to keep them separate from all other materials.

Here is the wider book drop also opened and with the bin pulled out a bit. Note the springs on the corner of the bin supporting the floating floor.

I searched in our collection of books about libraries, but couldn’t find anything about the history or development of the library book drop. A bit of internet searching also turned up nothing. The history of this basic piece of library equipment has yet to be written but they still stand (not very) tall to help make your day or night a tiny bit easier. Once you have visited any of our book drops please stop by the library to pick up more books, movies, music or audiobooks to enjoy.

Photos courtesy of the author.

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