This Wednesday morning at Rosanna library we are going live with our new RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) library system. This is a pilot and we want to ensure everything is working as it should before the other branches go live in the new year.
The main change for borrowers is that they will check their own materials out using express check machines. There are 3 units specially designed to make this task very easy. As well as checking out materials, library members can find out what is on their account and renew materials, even if they don't have the items with them.
The reason we have introduced this technology is to make circulation easy, quick and safe. Easy and quick for borrowers, and safer for staff who currently lend out 3.6 million items a year. By reducing the amount of manual handling by this amount our staff will be available to provide more assistance, whether that is running a computer class, finding answers to questions or suggesting a good book to read. Staff are not losing their jobs - but they will be working differently. And there will always be someone on hand to assist if there are any issues.
The way RFID works is that a chip is placed in each item that acts like a smart barcode. The smart part is that it doesn't need line of sight or contact to read - which means that 5 - 6 items can be checked out at the one time. There's no need to line up barcodes - just swipe your new borrower card, place the items on the designated spot and the items are lent out to you and the security bit is switched off. When the items are returned, the security bit gets switched on again. The gates are able to identify the particular item that hasn't been properly charged out.
Implementing RFID is an important step forward for the library service. Libraries are so much more than lending out books, and over the past few years there have been many more programs and activities run in libraries, more classes and more services. Library staff this year have been learning about the social networking technologies that are changing the way people interact on line and there are some very exciting developments in store for next year as we start incorporating these into our library offerings. And its not just about technology - we will foster more book clubs, have more time to implement programs that encourage the love of reading and provide more resources in readers advisory.
This new initiative is about improving our services and about freeing up staff to provide connections to people, information, resources, events and programs. I'll be interested to hear your feedback and comments on the new system.