Cathi Alloway saw a few more open spaces than usual Monday afternoon in the Schlow Centre Region Library parking lot.
It’s a sign that the library’s new validation parking system, which went online Monday, is doing its job, the library’s director said.
The new system works like this: Patrons can park for free during Schlow’s open hours, but they will have to validate a ticket on the way into the library and again on the way out.
Failure to do so will result in a $20 parking penalty fee.
After hours, anyone can park in the lot for $1 per hour, and payment will be made by credit card only. If visitors don't move their vehicles by the time the library opens, they will, again, face a $20 fee.
A new LED-lit sign will help notify visitors of the status of the lot, displaying “library parking only,” “parking available, credit card only,” or indicating the lot is “full.”
Still confused? Library staff can help.
Alloway said some patrons were a little puzzled Monday by the switch and required some training.
“I’d say about 70 percent of the people get it,” she said. “They swipe with confidence. (The others are) people who struggle with technology. We are here to guide them and assist them through it.”
Schlow had a similar system when it opened its current location eight years ago. That system broke, and instead of investing in a replacement, library staff took and wait-and-see approach.
What they saw was people parking at the library and leaving for hours, never stopping at Schlow. It clogged the lot and made it difficult for patrons to find a spot.
The new system, which cost $92,000, will not only keep spaces open for patrons during library hours, but it will generate money for the facility by allowing public parking after hours.
Alloway doesn’t know yet how much that will generate, but she budgeted nearly $5,000.
“I can use all the income I can get,” Alloway said.
Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.