HARLINGEN — Soon, a new kind of “red box” will be helping library patrons check out books at the city’s expanding super park.

At the Harlingen Public Library, Director Dauna Campbell is tapping grant money to fund the $235,000 purchase of a library kiosk from EnvisionWare, a Duluth, Ga.-based company listed on the state’s BuyBoard, a purchasing cooperative of state-approved vendors.

Under the purchase agreement, EnvisionWare will offer maintenance service as part of the city’s three-year contract.

A $400,000 state Border Cities grant aimed at helping libraries expand services funded the project.

“We were very fortunate to get this grant,” Campbell said.

Earlier this month, city commissioners gave Campbell the go-ahead to install the kiosk at Lon C. Hill Park, which officials are transforming into a multimillion-dollar so-called destination park.

“The kiosk is a great way to expand the library,” Campbell said. “I thought it’d be a neat addition to the library.”

How it works

In the Rio Grande Valley, the city will offer the region’s first library kiosk, she said.

With the project, Campbell continues to upgrade the library’s technology.

“Think of it as a library box Red Box,” she said, referring to the popular movie rental vending machines standing outside stores. “The whole idea is to make it easier to pick up and return library books.”

The kiosk, standing about seven feet high and 13 feet wide and operating 24 hours a day, will allow patrons to use their library cards to pick out books out of a selection of 340 titles.

“You’ll scan your library card and select an item,” Campbell said.

The kiosk, she said, will offer a wide selection of popular books.

“We’re going to focus on best sellers and children’s books and teen books,” she said.

If patrons can’t find the book they want, they can request it.

“Look through the library catalog and if you see something that’s not there, you can put it on hold and we’ll bring it from the library to the kiosk and send you a notification that it’s in the kiosk,” Campbell said.

Meanwhile, she and her staff will work to update the kiosk’s selection.

“We’ll be looking at what people really want to read — what are the popular books and who are the popular authors,” she said.

The kiosk will also offer a selection of more than 1 million ebooks and audiobooks, EnvisionWare stated as part of information Campbell presented to commissioners.

The kiosk will also allow patrons to use their credit cards to pay library fees and fines.

Where will it be?

As part of the project, Campbell picked Lon C. Hill Park as the kiosk’s site because it’s located close to the Boys and Girls Club and one of the city’s all-inclusive playgrounds.

The kiosk will stand next to the playground at the corner of N. L Street and Fair Park Boulevard.

“It’s convenient for families and it’s open 24 hours a day,” she said.

To protect the kiosk, the purchase includes a $39,000 enclosure along with security cameras.

The city plans to install the kiosk by early summer, Campbell said.

fdelvalle@valleystar.com