‘Don’t replace staff with machines’ - say library users

Sidmouth welcomes self-service tech

SIDMOUTH Library users who spoke to the Herald welcomed new self-service kiosks – but said valued staff shouldn’t be replaced by machines.

Customers queued out of the doors of the Blackmore Drive hub on Monday when it reopened after a near two-week closure to install the technology as part of an �80,000 revamp.

Devon County Council (DCC) bosses said a pair of machines will make borrowing “quicker and easier”.

Library user Gill Wallace, 65, of Barn Hayes, said she wanted to see cash invested in the adjoining health centre.

“The library is lovely already – the health centre is terrible,” she said.

“The self-service is quick and easy as long as there’s somebody standing there telling me what to do. It might be a bit harder otherwise.”

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Jim and Diana Tombs, of Burrow Close, Newton Poppleford, spoke of their admiration for the library’s staff.

Jim, 68, said: “I found the machines OK. The only thing we don’t like, and never have done, is a lack of human contact.”

Ex-librarian Diana, 66, said: “What we want here in the future is to come in and have a chat with the staff when we’re taking books out. We’ve got to know the girls over the years.”

Lucinda Ward, 87, of Malden Road, Sidford, said she’ll never use the kiosks.

“I’ve had excellent assistance,” she said.

“It would be awful if they replace staff with machines.”

Phil Midgley, 73, of Yarde Hill Orchard, was impressed with the technology and said: “How it does it is magic.”

Meriel Santer, first assistant at the library, said: “We (staff) are still here. The idea is they (machines) do the bread and butter stuff to free us up to help customers with their queries and choosing their books.”

“We’ve had lots of people interested to see what has been going on. They were slightly apprehensive at first but have picked it up and have been quite happy on the whole. It’s been lovely to see everybody after being closed for so long.

“The reaction has been positive.”