University, public libraries partner to save costs, expand access, convenience

January 03, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new collaboration between Penn State University Libraries and Schlow Centre Region Library in downtown State College, Pennsylvania, now enables University Park students and employees and Schlow Library patrons to return checked-out materials at any on-campus or Schlow drop-off location. What started as a cost-savings inquiry has evolved into a potentially scalable model for town-gown partnerships to increase Pennsylvanians’ access to library materials statewide.

If successful, this model of a reciprocal materials-return service may enable the University Libraries to expand it among many of its other Penn State locations, for added savings and expanded access to University and public library services in Penn State’s regional communities across Pennsylvania.

“The reciprocal materials-return service is the latest example of Penn State Libraries’ and Schlow Library’s growing number of creative collaborations. Libraries are known as organizations that support partnerships, and when we can find innovative and especially cost-effective solutions that help all our patrons as well as our library colleagues, we are interested in developing them,” Ann Snowman, University Libraries’ head of Access Services, said. “We hope to increase our partnerships as other mutually beneficial opportunities that also benefit our communities present themselves.”

The collaboration stemmed from a small request to discuss a cost-savings solution for Schlow Centre Region Library. On occasion its visitors have accidentally returned Penn State University Libraries materials at Schlow drop-off sites, and Schlow staff hoped they and their library colleagues at Penn State could find a way to avoid shipping costs to return those items to University Park. An ad hoc group representing both libraries met to discuss possible solutions, and an idea formed that transformed accidents into a purposeful and convenient service for both organizations’ borrowing communities.

Upon hearing the group’s proposal, University Libraries’ Receiving Room employees agreed to expand their delivery route from Pattee Library and Paterno Library to University Park branch libraries. Three times a week they also stop at Schlow Library to deliver Schlow’s materials returned to on-campus library locations and retrieve University Libraries materials collected at Schlow’s drop-off sites in and beyond the Centre Region.

The organizations also have agreed to extend a brief return grace period to accommodate the delivery schedule. Schlow or Penn State library borrowed materials dropped off by their due dates at any of the other library’s locations or remote book drop sites will be considered returned on time to the location of origin.

However, this arrangement excludes any borrowed items received via Interlibrary Loan. Those items still must be returned to the original library pickup location so they can be mailed back in a timely fashion to the U.S. or international libraries from which they were received.

This collaboration hopes to minimize inconveniences and expand access to library materials for both borrowing communities. Non-University affiliated community members, like all Pennsylvania citizens, have borrowing privileges at all Penn State University Libraries locations, and may visit any Penn State Libraries location to obtain a borrowing card. Both borrowing communities now can return materials at 14 locations in Centre County.

Architecture and Landscape Architecture Library book return location

The Architecture and Landscape Architecture Library's after-hours book return slot is on the north end of the Stuckeman Family Building, near the Palmer Museum of Art as well as Beam Hall, part of the North Housing Area along Park Avenue. 

IMAGE: Penn State University Libraries

Participating University Park libraries, each of which includes a 24/7 after-hours book-return slot, are:

  • Pattee Library and Paterno Library; return slot under blue awning, Paterno Library, off Curtin Road;
  • Architecture and Landscape Architecture Library, 111 Stuckeman Building;
  • Engineering Library, 325 Hammond Building;
  • Physical and Mathematical Sciences Library, 201 Davey Lab; and
  • Earth and Mineral Sciences Library, 105 Deike Building.

Remote drop-off locations at University Park available 24/7 include:

  • HUB-Robeson Center, ground floor west entrance and
  • Earth and Engineering Sciences Building, West Campus.

Schlow Library’s remote drop-off locations around the Centre Region include:

  • behind Schlow Library, 221 S. Allen St., near parking lot exit;
  • Giant Food Store, 255 Northland Center off North Atherton Street, under covered walkway near south entrance;
  • outside Uni-Mart, crossroads of Routes 322 and 550, Carson’s Corner; and
  • outside Brother’s Pizza, Stormstown.

Other Schlow after-hours book-slot locations are:

  • inside Weis Market, 110 Rolling Ridge Dr. off South Atherton Street, available during store hours;
  • inside Nittany Mall, entrance A, accessible during mall operating hours; and
  • at Clearfield Bank & Trust, 511 Pine Grove Rd., Pine Grove Mills.

Schlow Library also picks up and delivers borrowed materials weekly to State College area residents of Foxdale Village and the Village of Penn State. Those residents who borrow Penn State Libraries materials could return those items during Schlow’s weekly scheduled visits.

The University Libraries’ due date for its books checked out during the Spring 2018 semester is Thursday, May 10. Items may be renewed online via the yellow “Renew Books” tab or the black “My Account” tab, both at the top of the University Libraries’ homepage.

For more information about the reciprocal materials-return service, contact Ann Snowman,

  • interior photo of Engineering Library entrance showing door, book return slot, glass information board

    The Engineering Library, one of four subject-specific branch library locations in the central core of the University Park campus, has an after-hours book return slot outside its entrance at 325 Hammond Building.

    IMAGE: Penn State University Libraries

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 04, 2018