ROCKY MOUNT — The third branch of the Franklin County Public Library is up and running, and it’s fully automated.
The 24-hour library stands under a canopy alongside the southern access road into Summit View Business Park alongside U.S. 220, across from the ValleyStar Credit Union building.
Essentially a large vending machine, dispensing books and movies instead of snacks or sodas, the automated library was paid for by about $140,000 in federal CARES Act funding.
Franklin County purchased the machine from Georgia-based EnvisionWare, a company that specializes in self-service libraries. The county’s kiosk is the first EnvisionWare 24-hour library in Virginia. In February, Roanoke libraries dedicated a similar machine in South Roanoke, made by MK Solutions, a German company.
A Franklin County library card allows visitors to borrow from the collection of 235 books, audio books and DVDs contained in the kiosk.
The machine also is Wi-Fi enabled, allowing library card holders to download offerings from the library system’s digital collection.
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“The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced our responsibility to continue to serve county residents who don’t have internet access or are unable to visit our physical buildings,” Franklin County library director Alison Barry said in a statement. “Now people have access to library materials around the clock.”