HALLSVILLE — When residents of Hallsville go to Ed's Quik Stop, they can fill up their gas tanks, grab a snack, and soon they will be able to pick up the latest best-seller, too.
The gas station will be getting a set of 36 metal lockers by Labor Day as a part of the Daniel Boone Regional Library's new Library-To-Go service.
Quik Stop co-owner Rhonda Daly is an avid reader and offered up her business because she thought it would be a good central location for the town. About 90 percent of Hallsville goes past that location every day, Elinor Barrett, associate director of the library system, said.
Daly and her employees know the customers by name and greet them all with a smile. Community is the biggest part of her business, she said.
"That's what makes it enjoyable." Daly said. "You get to know everybody."
The convenience store has regular customers from Hallsville, Centralia and Sturgeon. All of the employees either grew up in Hallsville or have family there, Daly said.
"We've been in business here 29 years, and a lot of the customers have been with us since day one," Daly said.
Kathy Casey, 37, has been coming to Ed's Quik Stop since she was 16. Now instead of buying Mountain Dew and Doritos every day as she did as a teen, Casey will be coming to the store for her library books.
"I always miss the bookmobile, so (this) will be really nice," Casey said.
Patrons will be able to request books, CDs, films and other materials online and receive e-mail notifications when they are ready for pickup. They will scan their library cards at the built-in computer kiosk to open the locker containing their already-checked-out materials. This will open the door that contains their respective materials.
"I'll use it a lot," Daly said. "My goal is to read all of the classics."
Patrons do not have to request individual lockers; the materials will rotate through different lockers depending on the amount of available space. There will also be a book drop where patrons can drop off their materials when they are finished. Barrett said she is waiting on the day they have to add more lockers because that would mean the new system was a success.
"Anything that makes access to library services more convenient is kind of a no-brainer," Barrett said.
Library officials have been exploring ways to provide service in Hallsville since voters in April 2007 overwhelmingly defeated a 21-cent tax increase for a new library in Ashland and a branch library in north Columbia.
After the vote, the library board committed to not constructing any new buildings for five years, Barrett said.
The locker system has been growing in other areas of Missouri. When determining the best way to make the library more accessible to residents in the Hallsville area, the board looked to the Mid-Continent Public Library in Kansas City, which Barrett said is adding more lockers later this year.
The Library-To-Go project was outlined in last year's strategic plan, and location scouting began in the first quarter of 2010, Mitzi St. John, public relations administrator for the library system, said.
The set of lockers was $15,000, and the cost of installation was included in the purchase price, Barrett said. The library board set aside money from the regular operating budget from property taxes, St. John said.
"We're using their tax money to get the library closer to them," Barrett said.
A demonstration set of lockers will be on display at this weekend's Hallsville Heritage Days festival.