Monday, July 5, 2010

New library to feature efficiency

Along with plans for the new library’s mechanical systems, green design features, public and staff areas, we are investigating new technology that will make using the library easier for our customers and more efficient for staff.

Many of you already know that the children’s area will be located on the ground floor next to the main circulation area. So, it was an easy decision to have only one service point to check materials in and out. To help with the increased number of transactions there will be two self-check computers located on the first floor. These machines give the customer the easy option of checking out their own materials. Of course, the circulation desk will still have library staff ready to perform this and other borrower’s services.

Another development will be the introduction of RFID or radio frequency identification technology. Those of you that have a transponder in your vehicle to make the highway toll process faster and more convenient are already using RFID. We plan to insert RFID tags into each item and use the same technology to make the half million circulation transaction much more efficient.

New libraries in Milton and Norfolk have adopted RFID with great success. They use an automated sorting machine to reduce the number of times staff must handle each item. The libraries in Brookline, Sudbury, and Wellesley use RFID to speed the checkout process, provide a security system, and make inventory procedures more efficient. Many larger urban libraries have also embraced RFID.

I believe the use of technology will permit Westwood to meet the expected increase in usage that comes with a new library without a corresponding increase in staffing. At the same time, we hope that reducing the number of repetitive tasks the staff now performs will allow us to focus their time and expertise to giving our users even better service.