November 27, 2020

OCLC and Redbox (the Automated Video and Games Lending Company) Launch Pilot Project With Five U.S. Public Libraries

We shared a comment/question at the bottom of this post.

From OCLC:

Public libraries are teaming up with Redbox to pilot “Outside the Box,” a new community initiative that brings people together for free, fun, public entertainment experiences. The initiative is led by local communities, supported by OCLC and guided by consultants at the Project for Public Spaces.

Chosen based on key characteristics such as geographic and ethnic diversity, median household income and local leadership, the five partner communities and libraries include:

  • Billings, Montana (Billings Public Library)
  • Chicago, Illinois (West Town Branch of the Chicago Public Library)
  • Columbia, South Carolina (Richland Library)
  • Columbus, Georgia (Chattahoochee Valley Libraries)
  • Cuyahoga County, Ohio (Cuyahoga County Public Library)

“Outside the Box” kicks off in five communities in 2013. This summer and fall each community will design and host entertainment events ranging from arts festivals to concerts, outdoor movies and more.

“Public libraries were chosen as a launching pad for ‘Outside the Box’ because they are trusted institutions in local neighborhoods,” said Chrystie Hill, Community Relations Director for OCLC. “Like Redbox, libraries are committed to providing access to popular content and programs, to engaging and building communities, and contributing to local development. We’re thrilled to bring five leading libraries together with Redbox and the Project for Public Spaces to kick off this innovative program.”

“Outside the Box” was developed and funded by Redbox in order to provide communities with a variety of resources to produce fun and meaningful entertainment experiences. Through the program, Redbox provides event resources as well as local marketing support to participating communities, while program partners OCLC and the Project for Public Spaces. Each participating community is able to select unique materials to support its events, such as outdoor movie screens, blankets, tents, tables and seating, stages, or licensed access to movies or games.

Read the Complete Announcement

Brief Comment/Question

These outdoor events could be a great opportunity for the participating libraries to promote the many services and content they provide. 

However, the video/DVD borrowing services the library’s provide directly conflicts with a very large revenue stream for Redbox.  It’s not about specific titles (library vs. Redbox) but about making public library users aware of the fact that the library is offering a service/content (at no direct charge to the library cardholder) that Redbox charges users for.

We’ve asked OCLC if the participating libraries will be able to market their services including their video collections at the events? Are their any limitations on what libraries can promote at these events? We will update if/when we hear back.

UPDATED Jun. 21, 2013:  Here’s a reply from OCLC.

“All ‘Outside the Box’ partners are participating in these programs to build community with free, fun, public entertainment experiences in a variety of forms. There are no limitations on promotions or marketing efforts of library services at ‘Outside the Box’ events offered in partnership with Redbox.”

See Also: Here’s a mention of the Billings Public Library “Outside the Box” event that took place a week ago. (via Billings Gazette)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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