Question: Charging stations or devices

Free EV charge station sign evinfraWe are passing on a question from a library person, and a few responses; if you have other ideas or experience, leave them in the comments!

“I was interested in exploring some options for charging stations/docks/lockers/pads/etc. for our library. Does anyone have any experience with offering this, and can give me some pointers or tips of what to avoid?”

  • We have had good experience with laptop charging stations from Jar Systems. We use their laptop cabinets and are looking at their device charging stations for cell phones and tablets. My problem with most solutions for charging most small portable devices is that there is no way to secure the device. The Jar Systems have locks built in so the device can be left unattended. We tried a wireless charging solution for cell phones but it was not widely accepted by the students due to needing an adapter and an app to charge. (most non apple phones now have wireless charging capability built in) There was concern about the app and personal privacy. We looked at lockers with charging capability but space is an issue at our libraries so we have not gone that route, yet.
  • We check out portable chargers
  • We bought a couple of these at the end of last year. They use a web interface to manage the slideshow and are just running a version of Android. We have one by our Adult circulation desk and one by our Young Adult circ desk. The YA station gets used all the time. We did make sure to put a small disclosure about not being responsible for theft. One thing that we were worried about was people trying to use their device while it charged, but thankfully the cables are pretty short. This same company makes all kinds of different stations in case you want something else.
  • We use the Kwikboost lockers and have been pleased. They can be ordered with a variety of cables to accommodate various devices.
  • First off, avoid ChargeTech charging stations. Our library purchased 5 of these and within a year all of the units have some sort of damage. Most commonly it’s the charging tip that breaks and a replacement cord is $20. If we were to replace all of our broken cables we’d be looking at about $240. Wanting to offer a more secure place to charge items we recently purchase a KwikBoost Charging Locker. It hasn’t arrived yet but we’re very excited to get it. Working with the sales rep was easy and they have an in-house team that will customize the locker with your branding.For patrons that don’t want to lock their devices away we are starting to offer ChargeTechs Portable Power Outlet for checkout. This 27,000mAh battery pack has two USB ports and a standard US outlet to charge laptops and other devices.In addition to offering all those charging options we now have laptop, iPhone, and Android (micro and type C) chargers available for checkout.
  • We approached phone chargers from 2 different paths. First, we provided cables they can check out at the circulation desk.  Advantages include this is the most secure route, and patrons can charge their phones wherever they are working in the library. Disadvantages include this option is not available 24 hours. Secondly, we provided a charging station. This has been more popular than expected, and there’s kind of a social aspect to this solution as patrons wait by the charging station while their phone charges.  Our vendor is Kwikboost.  We have had one cable wear out, and we have added one cable to handle USB-C.
  • Similar to Angela’s library, many of the branches in the system I work for check out charging kits. Each 4 piece kit comes with a wall plug in, and a cord that will fit an android phone,  a cord for an older iPhone or iPod, and the newer iPhone and iPad cord. Each of these is labeled, and they are all stored in a plastic case. To check them out customers provide a photo ID that we hold behind the counter until they return the kit. This has worked fairly well overall, with minimal loss. The cords are easy to replace if they are damaged, wear out, or are stolen. The use of the photo ID allows us to offer them to a wide range of customers, as we’ll accept school ID from students. These are also more flexible, as it allows the user to choose where to plug their device in, including if they are using one of our computer since the cords are separate from the wall plug in.
  • Most of our reading room tables have both regular plug ins and usb ports built into the tabletops. Our patrons really like them. Maybe it’s time for new furniture?