Answers on the Red Box
To address the question that came up at a recent meeting of the City Council, our contract with Red Box is part of a pilot program being done with libraries across the country. In fact, we were the first public library in the country to offer the service.
The key reason for us to participate in this program is to offer the community 24/7 access to DVDs, which is why the machine is located outside the main entrance to the library. This is in line with the Library’s mission “to provide all citizens of Plainfield full and equal access to information resources, technologies, and programs for a lifetime of learning and cultural enrichment.” We continue to look for cost-effective ways to expand our services to the Plainfield community.
This new service is a great help to those who work late and to adults who are looking for family entertainment at the last minute on a Saturday evening or a Sunday. Red Box not only provides multiple copies of new releases, they also offer the public currently popular titles that the Library would probably never purchase. This now enables us to spend less on acquisition of movies that will have a short “shelf life” and focus more on titles that have greater merit, e.g. award-winning films.
Red Box rentals are $1, which is the same amount we formerly charged for our own DVD rentals. (We no longer charge for library DVDs.) To answer the question about “who gets the money?,” we get 3% of the dollar volume, which includes rentals, purchases, and late fees. Based on the current volume of rentals, this would bring us about $150 to $200 per quarter. This is similar to the arrangement libraries have long had with copier machine vendors. We do not view these as fundraising ventures; it is about providing better service to our public.
In the case of Red Box, they provide us with weekly activity reports, enabling us to see the number of rentals and which titles are most popular. Activity levels are increasing weekly, showing that this service is being well received by the community. It is interesting to note that the free-rental circulation of the library’s collection of DVDs continues to increase as well.