HUGO, Minn.—In this suburb of St. Paul, the new library branch has no librarians, no card catalog and no comfortable chairs in which to curl up and read.
Matt McLoone for The Wall Street JournalA library worker shows how to check out books from a digitally locked cubby, in Hugo, Minn.
Instead, the Library Express is a stack of metal lockers outside city hall. When patrons want a book or DVD, they order it online and pick it up from a digitally locked, glove-compartment- sized cubby a few days later. It’s a library as conceived by the Amazon.com generation.
Faced with layoffs and budget cuts, or simply looking for ways to expand their reach, libraries around the country are replacing traditional, full-service institutions with devices and approaches that may be redefining what it means to have a library.