A photograph of the Pioneer Library System solar-powered benches

Library Love

Take a break, charge up & read with the Pioneer Library System’s solar-powered benches


Jun 16, 2023

In a world where packages are fast-tracked to our front step and your next meal can be ordered in minutes, we want it, and we want it now. Consumer behavior grew to expect on-demand services during the pandemic, and as we’ve made our way back into the physical world, this hasn’t changed. Libraries, with their pioneering spirit, continue to find ways to meet users where they are and provide that instant gratification in our on-demand world.

Pioneer Library System bench by the lake
Photo: Pioneer Library System

One such pioneer is the Pioneer Library System in central Oklahoma, which serves the residents of Cleveland, McClain and Pottawatomie counties through 12 branches in 10 communities. There, all you need is a little sunshine to enjoy your next great read.

To help bridge the digital divide that became even more apparent during the pandemic, the library installed solar-powered benches around their community that allow people to charge their phone, connect to Wi-Fi and browse over 100,000 ebooks, audiobooks and magazines through the library's digital collection.

More than a cozy seat, these EnGoPlanet solar benches are a reading oasis—connecting community members to the library simply by scanning a QR code for access to ebooks and audiobooks from the digital collection on the Libby app.

Devices charging at a bench at the Pioneer Library System
Photo: Pioneer Library System

The benches were strategically placed in high-traffic areas, locations with low broadband connectivity or away from a library facility, and in addition to being convenient for users, they offer an opportunity for the library to advertise their services and reach an audience who may not regularly make it into a physical branch.

“These benches have truly helped bridge the digital divide while also increasing awareness about the library and our resources across our three-county service area,” said Kelly Sitzman, Director of Communications and Employee Development at the Pioneer Library System.

While the new seating has been fulfilling this mission, there have been some unexpected benefits as well.

“The benches provided connectivity and power after a tornado devastated one area of our community, further reinforcing that the library is there for everyone, in good times and in bad,” Sitzman added.

Pioneer Library System digital collection in the Libby app

In addition to the ebooks, audiobooks and magazines available to users in Libby, they can also use their library card to access additional resources like Kanopy and stream ad-free films and series on their TV, mobile phone, tablet and online.

More libraries across the country are taking action to connect users to their collections—Newago Area District Library in Michigan, Ames Public Library in Iowa, Delco Libraries in Pennsylvania and more have solar benches installed near their library branches and are inviting patrons to have a seat, charge their devices and open up a good book. These and many others continue to push forward, reimagining traditional library services in the digital era. And the future is looking sunny.


About the Author

Annie Suhy has been working in the book industry since 2006. When she’s not working, practicing yoga, or petting cats, she’s doing paint-by-numbers and buying more plants. An avid poetry fan, her favorite collection is "The Splinter Factory" by Jeffrey McDaniel.


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