Nearly 13,000 of the more than 31,000 U.S. post offices are likely to see reduced hours in the future. When a rural post office reduces hours, people often feel that in addition to losing a place to receive and send mail, they have lost a place that gives their community an identity and a place where neighbors can meet and share news. These qualities are also associated with rural libraries, and that is why the U.S. Postal Service is looking to libraries, along with small businesses, town halls and government centers, as places to provide convenient access to postal products and services.
The “Village Post Office” initiative at the U.S. Postal Service is part of the Postal Service’s “Approved Postal Provider” network that makes it possible for third parties to complement the Postal Service’s own network by offering customers retail access to postal products and services at convenient hours and locations.
A Village Post Office recently opened at the Leighton Township Library Moline Michigan. In this case, library director Andrea Estelle approached local post office officials to explore how the library might offer some postal services and on August 1 the deal was sealed. We will look forward to hearing more about how it works out for everyone.
Interestingly, we have also heard about post offices helping to deliver library services. For example in Scott Bar, California (pop.80) the library uses the county bus system to deliver library books to the post office where customers can pick them up.
Finding creative ways to leverage existing staff and facilities to help communities get the services they need is essential and I applaud the innovative libraries and post offices that are working together. If you have more stories of collaboration, let us know.