According to numbers provided by library spokeswoman Michelle Jeffers, a full 78 percent of the main library's March patrons used the 10 self-checkout machines. That's 143,850 of 183,820 patrons. The size of a library receipt varies depending upon how much material you check out, but even just one item will stick you with a six-inch long piece of paper -- and the library did not provide a recycling bin near the machines (not that needlessly wasting paper and then recycling it is any good for the environment).
For the sake of argument, let's say the average receipt was eight inches long. That means that the main branch's March patrons had the option of saving the library a ribbon of paper fully 95,900 feet long. That's 18 miles. Sadly, that's just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the paper used -- often needlessly -- by the city. But 18 miles is 18 miles -- why not save it?
Jeffers said the library actually doesn't yet know if it has saved dramatic quantities of paper -- its next paper order won't be made until August or September. Also, the self-checkout machines at the branch libraries won't be given the "no receipt" option until later this summer.
Even still, it's hard to imagine any possible downsides to this move -- which Jeffers says probably took library techies "very little" time to program. And it's easy to see the miles and miles of upsides.
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