Friday, January 18, 2013

Hotel libraries for guests? Rise in Hotel librarianship?

This week, a librarian colleague of mine alerted me to an article in USA Today on hotels that are creating libraries for their guests (DeLollis, 2013). Oddly enough, those so-called 'libraries' seemed to be just placement of books on a shelf and a space for users to go and read the books and hang out. Missing in the article is the information about having staffed libraries, with personnel to help meet guest information needs.

This got me thinking to an entrepreneurial idea that I thought about when I worked and vacationed on the Jamaican North Coast. I considered pitching to hotel owners the idea of having libraries in our resorts, where we could not only provide fiction materials for the entertainment of guests, but also more information sources about Jamaica and its landscape, building structures, geography, people and culture. However, at the time, I wondered if any hotel or resort group would be willing to pay a librarian for such a service, especially if it is not done by other reputable hotels and resorts overseas. Well now that DeLollis (2013) has now provided evidence that overseas hotels and resorts are considering the practice, I see validity in now re-visiting that idea.

In fact, in an email conversation with another colleague on the same idea, the issue was raised about the fact that i-Pads, Kindles and other e-readers have definitely changed the face of the game and persons could already take their libraries to the resorts with them on these devices. However, not many Jamaican content in my experience may be online.

Another issue suggested was that a book mobile service may very well be welcomed by the hotels, but again, the question of will they be willing to pay for it is not yet one that I know the answer for. The bookmobile type service would definitely spread the cost sharing between hotels, and hence not put the pressure on one particular hotel to sustain the service.

On the other hand, if we operated a bookmobile type service, then more than likely, we could not give loans, as once the book goes to the rooms of guests, we would not have control to see if the books will be returned. Hence it would have to be a reference type library service, rather than book lending. However, if operated by the hotels individually, fines for books not returned can be charged on the guest account/credit card. In this case, would library service be a new form of guest service in hotels?

These and other issues have caused me to wonder when will hotel libraries come to Jamaica and if there will be a need to develop a new field of librarianship to accommodate the practice of hotel librarianship. I am definitely willing to be part of such conversation and dialogue. And I think that Caribbean librarians, whose territory depend on tourism are in a great position to discuss this issue.


DeLollis, Barbara. (2013, January 14). Hotels add libraries for gadget-laden guests. USA Today. Retrieved from:

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